Campus: CSU Fresno -- December 18, 2002

CSU Sober Driver Initiative

New CSU Program Aims To Reduce Student Alcohol Abuse at 8 Campuses; Fresnan Named Director

CSU Sober Driver Initiative, a new program funded by the California Office of Traffic and Safety aimed at reducing alcohol related fatalities and abuse in college students from 18-39 years old at eight campuses in the system, has been launched with its headquarters at California State University, Fresno.

Funded at $770,000 for two years, the project is part of $1.57 million in federal funding the state received for a comprehensive education, prevention and enforcement campaign to address the issues of underage drinking and student alcohol abuse.

In addition to the California State University System, grants have been awarded to the Alcohol and Beverage Control agency and law enforcement.

The campaign was launched at a press conference in Sacramento this morning by Maria Contreras Sweet, California Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, with Fresno State President John D. Welty and other state officials.

Perry Angle of Fresno was named the director of the CSU program, announced Dr. Paul Oliaro, Fresno State vice president for student affairs and dean of students. The program’s base will be in Fresno State’s Division of Student Affairs.

Oliaro said the CSU project will provide education and prevention services and activities at state university campuses in Chico, Fresno, Long Beach, Hayward, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Bernardino and Sonoma.

The CSU Sober Driver Initiative will use a series of innovative, campus-specific strategies to target elements identified during a campaign undertaken by the CSU to reduce alcohol abuse among students, Oliaro said.

Two years ago, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed initiated the effort by appointing a committee headed by Welty that developed a system wide alcohol policy approved by the CSU Board of Trustees in July.

“Campuses are now working toward fulfillment of this policy,” Oliaro said.

The CSU Sober Driver Initiative project coordinators at the participating campuses who will work under Angle are Maggie Gaddis, Hayward; Sheron Dzik, Sonoma; Heather Dunn, Sacramento; Herman Ellis, Chico; Robert McGowan, San Bernardino; Karen Mendonca, Monterey Bay; and Renee Twigg, Long Beach.

Angle said the goal of the initiative is to reduce alcohol abuse and impaired driving by CSU students through a combination of social norms campaigns and peer education programs.
Social norms campaigns utilize a variety of strategies to correct misperceptions of students about how much other students actually drink, Angle said. Peer education uses the power of peer (student) influence in the areas of advising, counseling and educating other students.
“Many students enter college believing that most collegians consume large amounts of alcohol,” he said. “The reality, however, is to the contrary. We want to change these misperceptions about student alcohol consumption.”

He said the most recent poll states that 71 percent of Fresno State students had zero to three drinks the last time they attended a function where alcohol was available.

Angle said the elements identified as part of a successful campus program that CSU Sober Driver Initiative will now target are:

  • strong presidential leadership;
  • enforcement of “age 21” laws;
  • communication with students and parents;
  • creation of campus alcohol advisory councils with representation of various constituencies;
  • alternative late night and weekend programming;
  • institutional controls of alcohol beverage industry funding;
  • curriculum, staff training, intervention programs and partnerships with law enforcement.

Prior to his appointment, Angle was principal of the School of Unlimited Learning administered by the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission in Fresno.

The school served highly at-risk students included many who were involved in gang activity and had severe problems with substance abuse, Angle said.

Previously, Angle worked as director of several Fresno State student service programs including Upward Bound, ESL Upward Bound and the Math/Science Regional Center.

Oliaro said this background made Angle the best fit for the job because he is very knowledgeable about grant administration and is very familiar with the CSU system.

“This will allow him to be an excellent liaison with the other seven CSU campuses, which are a part of this collaboration with the Office of Traffic Safety,” Oliaro said. “Together, I am confident that we can achieve the goal of reducing incidents of drinking and driving by students."

Contact: Tom Uribes (559) 278-5366 or 250-8459

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