From: Public Affairs
August 18, 2010
Dear new and returning students,
I hope your summer has been both relaxing and meaningful. We look forward to welcoming you to JMU and to the new academic year!
While our mission is to prepare you to be educated and enlightened citizens, our primary concern is always your personal health and safety. Last spring semester ended with some lingering issues surrounding negative alcohol-related events off campus. As your President and on behalf of the university community, I remain very concerned about the abuse and underage use of alcohol by some of our students. Such behavior results in negative consequences for the individual and it also threatens the personal health, safety and community respect of the entire student body. The purpose of this letter is to notify you of actions that we will be taking to change the negative alcohol culture that has been associated with James Madison University specifically, and higher education generally.
Regularly, we survey students through our continuing student survey to learn about alcohol-related experiences and attitudes. Three of the recent responses are particularly symbolic of the problem with alcohol that we face. In commenting on Consequences of Using Alcohol, 44 percent of JMU students reported that alcohol caused them to behave in ways they later regretted. Twenty-eight percent said their alcohol-induced behavior left them feeling guilty. Further, 48 percent of students reported that their alcohol consumption resulted in them not remembering a period of time. During orientation for new students this summer, approximately 70 percent of the incoming freshmen indicated that they had used alcohol in the past month. These facts are clear evidence of the challenge before us and we want to reverse these trends. It is time to change our culture.
In recent years we have increased our efforts to address the alcohol issue, including the creation of an Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, which has been proactive and innovative in its approach. You may go to http://www.jmu.edu/yourcall to see the comprehensive strategies that are being used.
Unfortunately, our efforts have not been enough. All one has to do is to look at the Springfest videos or travel through off-campus apartment complexes on a "party" weekend to see the negative results. We also have an unseen problem. We have a number of students who seek help from the Counseling Center or Health Center because of alcohol abuse-related issues. Finally, we are attracting uninvited and unwelcome visitors to the University and Harrisonburg.
We are going to change this culture. JMU will not be defined by a negative alcohol culture, nor will we allow it to be perpetuated. However, we cannot turn things around without your help.
The changes listed below will be implemented this Fall to begin to transform the JMU alcohol culture. This list is the result of numerous conversations with students, faculty, staff, parents and community members. While our goal is to improve the culture of our entire community, change begins with the daily decisions that you will make as an individual. The positive impact that Madison makes in communities across the country starts here in the Harrisonburg community. Therefore, I ask you to lead a life that reflects our institutional values: Integrity, Mutual Respect and Excellence.
Linwood H. Rose