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MIT joins statewide campaign to combat binge drinking

MIT is one of 47 universities in Massachusetts to enlist in a statewide campaign to combat binge drinking.

The "Commitment to Collaboration" public-private partnership, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the state attorney general's office, calls on the schools to share ideas and strategies to effectively address the issues associated with the abuse of alcohol. The state agencies organized the campaign after a national study revealed that New England has the highest rate of underage drinking in the nation.

Ian L. Wong, director of the DPH's Young Adult Community Health program, cited MIT for creating "a model program" that focuses on treatment and counseling and includes representatives from across campus, including the Office of the Dean for Student Life and MIT Medical. "You don't see that kind of organized effort elsewhere," Wong said. "MIT's program could well be a showcase for the other schools."

Wong said the appointment of Daniel A. Trujillo as associate dean for community development and substance abuse programs represented a major commitment by MIT. "In most schools, the person in charge does not have that kind of authority," he said. "They really have supported Danny."

Trujillo played an active role in developing the collaboration's action plan. "The statewide coalition represents another level of Institute-community collaboration offering support in our efforts to promote the health and safety of students, as well as the opportunity for MIT to share our innovative programs with other universities," said Trujillo, who celebrates his first anniversary at MIT on Jan. 2.

Other schools that have enlisted in the effort include Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern and Tufts. Officials from the 47 schools signed an "action plan" on Wednesday.

The schools pledged to work together to address alcohol abuse, to foster program strategic planning and evaluation and to share information about successful strategies.

The action plan also calls for the colleges to adopt a consistent administrative response for violations of alcohol policy. The plan acknowledges the unique educational culture of each institution by encouraging flexibility in developing specific measures to address problem drinking on each campus.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 6, 2002.

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