Sep 012005
Authors: Katrina Tamminga

CSU administrators and students have strived to repair the university's tainted image after the alcohol-related deaths of two students last fall and to keep such tragedies from happening again.

"Last year there were some really tragic events with Spady, the riots and the second alcohol-related death of CSU student Bennett Bertoli in December," said Brad Bohlander, a spokesperson for CSU. "The Alcohol Task Force did an outstanding job pulling together the campus as well as the university."

CSU President Larry Penley and administrators instituted a number of changes over the summer to help promote a safer and healthier environment for students, Bohlander said, including expanded substance-abuse programs.

Following Sam Spady's death, President Penley created an Alcohol Task Force, led by Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, to examine the underlying issues that lead to irresponsible drinking and to find solutions to prevent such tragedies from occurring again.

The Drugs, Alcohol and You (DAY) Program, improved neighborhood relations for students living off-campus, reviewed alcohol policies at Hughes Stadium and the "86 Yourself" anti-drunk driving campaign are just some of the measures university officials have taken. All freshmen also are strongly encouraged to take part in AlcoholEdu, an online course teaching alcohol safety.

Eighty percent of first-year students participated in AlcoholEdu, said Pam McCracken, the director of the Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Education. She said that while first-year students are not required to participate in AlcoholEdu, they are strongly encouraged to and records are kept of all those who do participate.

"AlcoholEdu is more of an assessment tool because it is working from the perspective that if students need help, help is available," McCracken said. "Most of our students are moderate and responsible and play it safe but for those who do not, we now have resources to help. The purpose is to see how alcohol is affecting their lives, make an assessment and then get them help if they need it."

McCracken said although CSU had been considering programs similar to AlcoholEdu, last year's events made it a priority.

"Now the entire community is much more aware of the consequences of alcohol," McCracken said. "Through this program, teachers are able to help those students they think have a problem. They have an online tool and are able to reach out to much more of our campus with these resources."

Serene Virtue, a freshman open-option seeking technical journalism major, said while she was not in Fort Collins at the time, she still heard about the riots and the deaths of Spady and Bertoli.

"I heard about what had happened at CSU but that didn't change my opinion about the school. Something like that could happen anywhere," Virtue said. "The online alcohol course that they have now is useful and provides a lot of great tips but I don't think it is going to sway anyone to change their drinking habits."

Along with administration and legislators, students also are taking a vested interest in their safety.

Lindsey Smith, a sophomore technical journalism major, organized the alcohol prevention program, On the Verge, which will meet Thursday night in the Corbett Hall.

"We will have members from Ace of Spades and from the Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Education at the meeting," Smith said. "Students will be able to hear first-hand the effects that alcohol can have on them. Hopefully, they will walk away with at least one piece of information that will help keep them or their friends safe."

Bohlander said the work of the task force and all other programs have already had a lasting impact on the CSU community.

"CSU and was not accurately portrayed in the media," Bohlander said. "Prior to all this CSU was seen as a leader in alcohol and drug prevention. All the work of the task force and all the other groups have done has only helped to get us back to the standard. This year I am so pleased with what we've seen from the students. All are stepping up and taking a positive role in preventing what happened last year from happening again."

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