Dec 122004
 
Authors: Lila Hickey

Thursday's Alcohol Task Force meeting revealed a glimpse of the possible recommendations the committee will eventually make to CSU President Larry Penley – most notably, the return of alcohol to Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.

But nothing is certain yet. Several series of revisions and the task force's approval must be given before the recommendations will hit Penley's desk.

Katie Clausen, a member of the task force and president of the Associated Students of CSU, said the recommendations at the Thursday meeting focused mainly on increased and improved alcohol and drug education efforts, alcohol-related problems in the community and state, and the banning of beer at Hughes Stadium.

One subcommittee, of which Clausen is a member, gave a preliminary recommendation of reinstating beer sales at the stadium, after reaching the conclusion that controlled beer sales within the stadium do not contribute to underage or binge drinking.

"My subcommittee came out and said that we recommend that the ban of alcohol at Hughes be lifted," Clausen said. "It would be my understanding that once the task force sees all the facts that we have been collecting as a subcommittee, they would pass that on (to Penley)."

Jim Weber, assistant director of CSU's Alcohol and Drug Education unit and a member of the subcommittee that made the recommendation, agreed that the group had put considerable research into their decision, including several open-forums and a 4,000-person e-survey.

"There was a lot of things that went into the decision," Weber said.

Penley halted beer sales at the stadium on Sept. 16 without consulting the student body. He later told the student senate the ban was an effort to halt a spiral of negative press surrounding two riots early in the school year and the alcohol-related death of sophomore Samantha Spady.

Another subcommittee made suggestions that seem to echo the rental-licensing debate discussions before City Council.

The group raised the possibility of restricting sophomores to on-campus housing and forbidding freshmen exemptions. Freshmen are required to live on campus unless they have a close family member in the community with whom they can live.

Clausen called their suggestions "outrageous ideas" but said none of the recommendations are final and that many of the ideas were not plausible.

"How realistic any of these are is debatable," she said. "Some of the (student housing suggestions) were a shock to me."

A more contentious issue was a suggestion to reexamine Colorado's drinking age and a draft suggestion to allow people ages 18 to 20 access to alcohol in specific, controlled bars. Lt. Gov. Jane Norton quickly asked the subcommittee to reconsider the proposal.

Clausen said Norton's reaction disappointed her because she felt all ideas brought to the committee should be fully considered and discussed.

"I thought (Norton's reaction) was just ridiculous," Clausen said. "People just sat up and were lashing out in that meeting. It was disappointing to see."

But Weber said politically such a suggestion is unrealistic, regardless of the possible positive results of controlling underage drinking.

"The reality being, with federal highway funds being tied to the drinking age, unless this state is going to cut out several billion dollars more in the budget, (the drinking age cannot change)," Weber said. "The state can't afford to lose that kind of money."

Clausen said the drinking age should still be examined, since allowing drinking in controlled environments might reduce dangerous, illicit drinking practices.

"That's the whole point of the task force. Lots of these things have been in place for 30 years, and it's no longer working. We've got an entirely new generation. We know that students are drinking and they're hiding it and they're getting plastered in people's garages," she said.

Weber was pleased with the attention given to alcohol and drug education, as was Brad Bohlander of CSU University Relations.

One suggested education tactic, Bohlander said, was social norming campaigns, such the recently implemented "86 yourself." Bohlander said students need to realize that very few of their peers drink as much as they imagine – an important factor in increased drinking levels, especially among new students seeking to fit in.

"They perceive that other students drink a lot more than they actually do," Bohlander said. "It's a health promotion campaign to get the truth out, to get the facts out. To say '80 percent of our students have one drink or less.'"

Subcommittees also discussed the importance of safe ride programs, such as the recently expanded RamRide, and increasing public transportation in Fort Collins via Transfort, taxi and bus services, and designated driver programs.

Dave Nichols, a member of the task force and manager of High Country Beverage, said he was pleased by the attention given to transportation.

"I strongly believe that our community needs a complete transportation system," he said. "I think RamRide is a great, great program."

Members agreed that the task force committee and subcommittees have been productive and will present useful and worthwhile recommendations to Penley.

"I'm very hopeful. I think there's a real sense of 'we can do something,'" Weber said. "If (Penley) just wanted a task force to (do nothing) I think he would have picked some very different people …"

None of Thursday's recommendations are final. First, the subcommittees will review their proposals and present their final recommendations to the task force by Jan. 14. Then task force members will use a listserv to discuss the various recommendations and in two meetings on Jan. 20 and 27 will decide which recommendations to amend and adopt. These final recommendations will be presented to Penley for consideration and possible implementation on Feb. 1.

GRAPHIC

Infobox

Here are the four subcommittees for the CSU Alcohol Task Force

Alcohol related policies, protocols & enforcement practices

Student behavior and educational & intervention programs

Alcohol related legislation, distribution & advertising

Use of alcohol at Hughes Stadium

"Let your voice be heard!"

Attend task force meetings and make suggestions to the committee: Jan 20 and 27, from 3 to 6 p.m., in Room 223 of the Lory Student Center. Public comment is allowed at the end of each meeting. Or make suggestions or comments at http://www.president.colostate.edu/alcohol_task_force/index.asp?page=alcohol_task_force_feedback_form

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