Southeastern looking to enhance alcohol awareness educational activities among students
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – A vehicular accident involving an alleged drunken driver took the lives of two current and one former Southeastern Louisiana University students earlier this month. In the tragedy’s wake, university President John L. Crain pledged to take steps to reduce the possibilities of a similar incident occurring in the future.
Crain committed to meet with city and community officials and to work with faculty, staff and students to enhance student-oriented alcohol awareness educational activities.
“An initial meeting included Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster and several other community and civic leaders,” Crain said. “Focus group meetings will also be held with students and faculty members with expertise in areas such as social behavior and addictions to brainstorm ideas and come up with approaches that we hope will help make tragedies of this nature less likely,” Crain said. “We’re collecting ideas and suggestions from various groups and individuals, and will meet again in the near future to see what can be implemented.
“We all recognize that it is not just a problem of the university, but one that impacts the entire community,” he added. “In order to reduce the scope of this problem, we need to work in partnership with our area elected officials, law enforcement personnel, various agencies and the owners of establishments that dispense alcohol.”
On March 6, a group of Southeastern students and others were walking back to their Hammond apartments on Nashville Avenue following an evening at a nearby bar. A truck driven by the alleged drunken driver crashed into the group; three were killed at the scene and two were injured, one seriously.
“A poor personal decision led to this tragedy,” Crain said, “While we can’t prevent individuals from making poor decisions, we can do all we can so they’re informed and will hopefully make good decisions.”
Crain said he has charged the Division of Student Affairs at Southeastern to review the university’s current programming in the area of alcohol abuse and to determine what might be enhanced through additional or improved programming.
“We’re looking at what’s working at other universities to see what can be adapted here at Southeastern,” said Jim McHodgkins, assistant vice president for student affairs. “Currently we have multiple programs offered throughout the year for various student groups on alcohol use and healthy lifestyles, and we continually reiterate university policy with student organizations. Our Office of Student Development, University Counseling Center and Recreational Sports and Wellness all offer programs. We need to determine, however, if there is more that we can be doing and/or if we can present these educational programs more effectively.”
Crain said the problem of alcohol abuse will never go away completely.
“This means, however, that we have to be vigilant and that we partner with other groups, agencies and institutions to make certain our programs are as effective as possible,” he said.