May 6, 2008

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has accepted 36 of 38 recommendations made by the Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention to review programs, regulations and the campus culture related to substance abuse issues.

One recommendation will establish a President’s Commission on Substance Abuse Prevention. SMU also will expand campus health center hours, to be staffed by a nurse with on-call physicians; review judicial procedures and sanctions; establish a Good Samaritan Policy and Medical Amnesty Program for medical emergencies; strengthen collaboration with the North Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force; and establish a central campus source for reports of students in distress.

Regarding academic practices that can affect student behavior, SMU will call on faculty to announce and use a class attendance policy, schedule more Friday classes, increase the academic rigor of courses, provide early grade reports for first-year students and limit the number of course drops.

Turner also approved recommendations to make campus a center of late-night social life for students by extending hours and programming in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center and other venues. Approved recommendations also call for making all Greek recruitment events alcohol-free, including off-campus weekend events, and discouraging all organized parties, including the use of buses, on school nights.

Turner rejected a recommendation to permit organizations to sponsor parties and to serve beer on campus to those of drinking age. He also rejected a recommendation to establish a pub on the Hilltop because most students living on campus are first-year, underage students.

Other approved recommendations focus on improving communication of substance abuse resources and regulations and working more closely with parents to identify and assist students with alcohol and drug issues.

“While students are ultimately responsible for their own choices, we hope to strengthen a culture of personal responsibility, promote a healthy balance between social and academic life, and encourage full use of available resources, programs and assistance,” Turner said. He presented his decisions at a campus meeting April 29.

Appointed last June, the task force consisted of faculty, staff, students and a trustee who is also an SMU parent and alumna.