FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Safety Net Coalition Taps into Alcohol and Other Drug-Related
Problems Participants Seek a Healthy Environment for Students
CHICAGO, March 26, 2004 Frank Sassolino, owner of the popular Hamilton’s Bar and Grill in Rogers Park, recognizes the damage advertising can wreak on students and others if too much emphasis is placed on alcohol. “You want to be more aware,” Sassolino said. “Anytime you watch television or look at a newspaper, you always see a beer ad.”
Because of his desire to help curb drinking abuse among college students, Sassolino has placed more weight on the food specials and entertainment in his weekly advertisements printed in the nearby Loyola University Chicago student newspaper and less emphasis on alcohol. “Drinking problems tend to magnify by the time you’re 35 or 40 years old,” he said. “We’re trying to control people abusing alcohol.”
Sassolino is one of 18 community and university members who participate on a Safety Net Coalition appointed by the president of Loyola to address alcohol and other drug-related problems. The coalition’s overall goal is to develop a healthy environment for students by executing a campus strategy for the prevention of alcohol misuse among students.
“Environmental management for alcohol issues is really an evidence-based approach that has been shown to be effective in other areas, and one of the main ingredients for having an effective management program is to have a coalition that really overseas and makes recommendations,” said Diane Asaro, director of Loyola’s Wellness Center.
Funded by a $5,000 grant from the Illinois Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention, the coalition is outcome-oriented and specifically looks to formulate goals and an action plan. “We are set to see real changes,” Asaro said.
Part of the process has included a student survey that asked a variety of questions such as “Does your campus offer positive events/activities that students can enjoy without alcohol on typical ‘party nights?'” “Is there an alcohol-free residence hall option?” and “Do effective policies exist to help leaders of student organizations adhere to practices to reduce the likelihood for high risk social events and potential alcohol liability risk?”
“I think student buy-in is really important for this to be effective,” said Richard Salmi, S.J., vice president of student affairs. The committee includes several students who help answer what messages the university gives out regarding alcohol consumption.
“Are we intentional in creating an environment that lends itself to helping youth with alcohol and not a misuse of alcohol?” Salmi asked. “The students have been overall very frank and honest regarding the environment.”
Although the program is very young, the coalition, which meets every six weeks, recently received The Extra Mile Certificate of Recognition award for Outstanding Commitment to Alcohol, Other Drug, and Traffic Safety Problem Prevention Efforts. Loyola received the award from the Illinois Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Other Drug and Violence Prevention for spearheading a program that has resulted in expanded health and safety promotion services to the students of Loyola.
“I think part of the safety net coalition concept really stems from a Jesuit approach that we really care for our students and that we’re meeting them where they’re at,” Asaro said. “We want to give them a real safety net so that they’re doing the things students normally do developmentally and so they don’t make mistakes that will impact the rest of their life.”
For more information on the coalition, contact Asaro at 773.508.2530.
About Loyola University Chicago
Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is among the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities” in its annual publications. For more information, please visit our web site at www.luc.edu.