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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Committees to address substance use and medical amnesty

Published: October 25, 2013
Section: Front Page, News

The Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force will now be divided into subcommittees to focus on specific issues of importance to the student community. These additional committees will use time more efficiently and give students the opportunity to be involved in particular issues that interest them.

Brandeis created the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force to give students, staff and faculty the chance to regularly discuss alcohol and drug use on campus. The group meets to understand university policies and approaches to substance use and examines how students are using drugs as well.

The committee reorganization was proposed by Allison Leventhal, assistant director for programs and resident support. She said that the subcommittees would allow for the time between meetings to be better used, so that at monthly meetings, the focus remains on reporting and brainstorming new ideas.

“There were so many great ideas and projects that students and other members have expressed interest in that we formed the subcommittees to divide up the work!” Diana Denning, nurse manager at the Health Center, wrote in an email.

There are four new subcommittees proposed. The first will discuss alcohol and drugs and be led by Lauren Grover, the alcohol and drug counselor at the Health Center. “She is putting together a report with the help of Student Union Alcohol Committee members, which will include info on alcohol and drug use and impacts at Brandeis, preventive programming and resources at Brandeis,” Denning wrote.

The second subcommittee will focus on medical amnesty policies, which are laws that help protect people from liability if they seek medical help because of their involvement in illegal activities. In a university setting, this would likely pertain to underage students who are drinking excessively and need to call for help. These students, under medical amnesty, would be protected from judicial consequences even though they participated in illegal actions. Leventhal, who is also the co-chair of the Task Force, will lead the group. She is currently working with staff at the ICC and students in BEMCo to examine the university’s current policies regarding medical amnesty.

Denning will also run a subcommittee on tobacco use, which will examine “ways to promote reductions in tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure on campus.” Students in Colleges Against Cancer and interns in HSSP and sociology programs will be the main participants who will work to make their goals become reality.

The Alcohol Task Force is currently open to any student who would like to participate, and the subcommittees will operate similarly. “Since the task force is an open meeting, any student interested in such issues is invited,” Leventhal said.

The task force used to be chaired by Dean Gendron, director of student rights and community standards. Leventhal, from the Department of Community Living, became the new co-chair this year because Gendron became more involved in other programs.

“My hope is that the ideas and reports generated by members of this task force will promote safe and responsible use of alcohol and other drugs on campus,” she said.

Committees are also particularly recommended for students in groups with a focus on health and substance use, such as BEMCo, PERC, Colleges Against Cancer and the student senate’s committee on alcohol and other drug issues.