A team of students, staff and administrators from Northwestern University joined similar teams from 32 institutions from across the country in Washington, D.C., this month to focus on improving the health of their students by reducing harm associated with high-risk drinking. 

The session was the third face-to-face meeting of the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, led by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Dartmouth College.

Northwestern has been a member of the National College Health Improvement Project (NCHIP) since it launched the learning collaborative on high risk drinking in April 2011.

At the three-day event, Northwestern representatives, led by Lisa Currie, director of health promotion and wellness, presented progress in harm reduction and helping students make safer choices around alcohol use.

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro also attended the Washington, D.C. gathering. He stressed that Northwestern’s involvement in the NCHIP collaborative is critical to the University’s efforts in reducing harm associated with drinking. 

“Reducing binge drinking and its harmful effects is an important goal for Northwestern,” President Schapiro said. “This innovative collaboration draws upon the collective wisdom and scholarship of institutions from across the country to help keep our students safe.”

The Northwestern presentations to fellow schools at the learning collaborative in D.C. included a report on the development and implementation of NU Nights, a student-led program designed to unite the campus at late night social events. 

During the event’s strategy sessions, campus improvement teams shared Northwestern approaches to pre-gaming, off-campus parties and other high-risk behaviors that the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates each year kill as many as 1,800 college students and contribute to hundreds of thousands injuries, sexual assaults and academic failures.

Since Northwestern joined the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, improvements in student health safety include enhanced safety during the 2011 Homecoming Parade and a significant reduction of time between the occurrence of a conduct incident and a student referral to the appropriate intervention.

The university has also set up a website addressing alcohol abuse issues.

Other Northwestern representatives who attended the learning collaborative session in D.C. include:

•    Susan Cushman, coordinator of alcohol and other drug prevention
•    Ellen Herion Fingado, assistant director for student conduct and conflict resolution
•    Jennifer Dowd, graduate assistant for campus improvement team (enrolled in the School of Education and Social Policy Higher Education Administration and Policy program)
•    Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president for student engagement
•    Dan McAleer, deputy chief of University Police

The National College Health Improvement Project was created in 2010 by Jim Yong Kim, M.D., when he was Dartmouth’s president. Kim, who recently left Dartmouth to serve as the president of the World Bank, attended the event in the nation’s capital.

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