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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, June 6, 2014

This week we’re following up with three stories we reported on in earlier Weekly Roundups.

Alumni Network Battles Sexual Assault

A few weeks ago we reported on alumni who are fighting sexual assault at the alma maters by withholding or diverting donations in protest of ineffective or ill-conceived sexual assault policies. Now, a rapidly growing group of alumni are taking one step further by coordinating their efforts against sexual assault. Alumni activists from the University of Chicago, Yale, Occidental, Columbia, Dartmouth, and numerous other campuses are banding together to figure out how they can use their donations and, in many cases, considerable wealth and influence to positively affect the cultures of the schools they used to call home. This fight has particular urgency for many former student activists, who bemoan the need to fight for change they were calling decades ago.

Bans on Powdered Alcohol

Last month we brought you this story about a new powdered form of alcohol  called “Palcohol” and the problems it could pose for school administrators. Now, at least two states have decided that those issues are enough cause for concern to justify temporary bans on alcohol in powdered form. Vermont banned powdered alcohol last month, and now South Carolina’s House of Representatives, citing concerns about the regulation of alcohol in non-liquid form, have voted unanimously to send a bill banning the powdered versions of various kinds of liquor on to the governor for approval. Unsurprisingly, one of the chief regulatory concerns cited by South Carolina lawmakers was how this product could be used to effectively circumvent laws that define alcohol as a liquid. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked the Food and Drug Administration to keep Palcohol out of the hands of underage drinkers, predicting it would become “the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking.”

U.S. News Says It Won’t Include Sexual Assault Data in College Rankings

We’ve reported on both the pros and the cons of U.S. News and World Report factoring the number of on-campus sexual assaults at a given institution into its college rankings. Following lawmakers’ calls for the publication to begin including sexual assault data in its rankings, U.S. News has issued a definitive decision on the matter. Due to their concerns about the accuracy of such data, and their belief that such information, even if it could be measured accurately, would not be relevant to the rankings’ purpose of determining the academic quality of a given school, U.S. News does not plan to factor sexual assault prevalence into its college rankings now or at any time in the foreseeable future. It will, however, include such information on the online profile page for individual schools and acknowledges the importance of campus safety to students’ college experience.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 2, 2014

Substance abuse is not a new campus safety issue. However, the shape that challenge takes is always changing. This week we’re highlighting three stories about new trends in substance abuse that may very well suggest the challenges college administrators will face in the future.

Marijuana Vaporizers

Just as electronic cigarettes pose a new regulatory challenge, their cannabis cousins, vaporizers, pose an equal challenge to schools determined to curb drug use on campus. A vaporizer can be used to consume marijuana—it heats marijuana flowers or concentrates to around 350 degrees, not hot enough to burn but hot enough to vaporize the psychoactive chemical THC and produce a high every bit as potent as smoking from a joint or a pipe. These devices pose a unique problem for campus administrators. Vaporizers can be as small as a pen, and produce none of the tell-tale skunk-like odor associated with smoking marijuana. As a result, they are easy to use discreetly and hide. In fact, they are virtually indistinguishable from e-cigarettes. With the market for vaporizers growing at a pace usually associated with tech startups, colleges and universities trying to prevent students from getting high on campus will be hard-pressed to find a way to remove vaporizers from their grounds.

Powdered Alcohol

Similar problems are presented by the possibility of widely-available powdered alcohol, a concept that took one step closer to reality when the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued the federal approvals necessary for a product called Palcohol to be made and sold in the United States. While the TTB has since said that those approvals were issued “in error,” it’s not clear what that means for the future of Palcohol, and it’s possible that just-add-water margaritas and mojitos could still be coming soon to a liquor store near you, or your campus. Like vaporizers, powdered alcohol could pose a major challenge to schools determined to keep their campuses substance free—it’s not hard to imagine students sneaking small packets of powdered booze to school events in their pockets or bags and then adding them to the punch or water bottles. Powdered alcohol might pose other problems as well. It’s not yet clear what would happen if an intoxicated undergrad tried to snort a packet of Palcohol, or eat it straight, or add half the recommended amount of water, but preventing such scenarios might become a top priority for schools as soon as Palcohol can work out their differences with the TTB.

Heroin on Campus

While marijuana and alcohol are both well-known problems on college campuses (and the traditional focus of prevention programs), few schools consider hard drugs like heroin to be a major problem. Now, however, that’s starting to change, especially for schools located in areas where the use of heroin or other hard drugs is increasing in the larger population. Incidents such as the overdose death of a University of Rochester freshman are prompting administrators to begin expanding their prevention efforts to include hard drugs, a change one campus health center director has described as a “paradigm shift.”. New efforts include screening student patients for hard drug use and making resources available for addicts trying to beat an addiction.

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