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JMU to Change Alcohol Culture on Campus

August 19, 2010

Students received an e-mail Wednesday morning from JMU President Dr. Linwood Rose outlining a new alcohol policy. Officials have been keeping it in the forefront of everyone's minds beginning this summer, and say this will continue throughout the year.

Tear gas, flying beer bottles and assaults on officers were all seen at JMU's Springfest this past April. It's something Rose says he and other university leaders aren't proud of.

"We really want to go much beyond one weekend, or even a series of events, and look at alcohol culture in general and try to change that," says Rose.

Dr. Mark Warner, who works with JMU's student affairs, says they decided they needed to add to their comprehensive plan.

"We already have been working for the last 10 years on how do we address the alcohol cultural issue? And it's a tough one, and we decided that what we're doing, we've got to add something to it," says Warner.

It's a plan that sets goals and actions.

The goals focus around decreasing the negative alcohol culture at the university and decreasing alcohol abuse, while increasing the relationship with the community.

In so far as actions, the university hopes to discourage alcohol abuse by increasing law enforcement and ABC presence both on and off campus.

The university also wants to get parents more involved, which they're doing by notifying parents about alcohol violations starting with the first offense, as opposed to the second offense.

University officials are also working on a "Know Your Guests" campaign, as well as safe and responsible use of social media, to help crack down on open door parties, where unwanted guests may attend and cause trouble.

And this fall, the university will be reviewing their "three strikes policy" when it comes to alcohol violations to see what changes may be necessary.

They hope these goals and actions, along with many others, will make a change, but they say it'll take time to change a culture.

"In the end it's going to all come down to does behavior change? And that's going to be up to our students, and so we need their help," says Rose.

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