Student Affairs adds new Office of Alcohol Policy and Education

Stanford recently opened a new Office of Alcohol Policy and Education under the direction of Ralph Castro, associate dean of student affairs. Joining Castro are Jarreau Bowen, assistant director and education and outreach coordinator, and Angelina Cardona, assistant director and community engagement coordinator. Castro answers questions about the mission of the new office, located in Rogers House, and about a new student alcohol policy.

What are your hopes for the new Office of Alcohol Policy and Education?

 The goals for the office include enhancing alcohol educational outreach efforts across campus; providing clarity and consistency in the application of the student alcohol policy; creating ongoing social outlets for students that deemphasize alcohol; and shifting campus culture away from hard-liquor consumption. My hopes are that, over time, we can shift campus culture in a positive direction that actively discourages high-risk and dangerous drinking.

How do our efforts to curb risky drinking compare to those of our peers?

All of our peers are dealing with the same issues. We now mirror our peers in staffing and outreach efforts with the creation of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education. We consistently talk to our peers to share information and ideas on how we can offer the best strategies given our similar student demographics.

In the past, research showed that Stanford students didn’t drink as much as their peers at other colleges and universities. Is that still the case?

We are catching up to national norms for quantity and frequency of drinking. We still attract students who were not regular drinkers in high school. We are currently collecting data to get a better handle on the statistics.

National research shows that 40 percent of college students binge drink. Is that the case with Stanford students as well?

A few years ago, we were below national averages for binge drinking, but that difference has faded over time. We now are close to national averages for binge drinking at Stanford.

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