Student Health and Safety Committee Recommends Extending Student Code Off Campus, Revising Alcohol Policy
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 24, 2014) ― After months of extensive review of best practices across the country, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto announced today that this fall UK will extend its Code of Student Conduct off campus as part of a comprehensive approach to ensuring student safety and strengthening relationships with neighborhoods.
That recommendation, which will be implemented over the next several months, is one of several adopted by Capilouto following an extensive review by a diverse 16-member committee, which included representatives from the University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC), Lexington city government and neighborhoods surrounding UK.
"Our first priority is the safety of our students and the community we serve," Capilouto said. "At the same time, we want to build on the strong relationships we have with our neighbors and the broader community. This report, the work of so many people on our campus and in Lexington, is another important step in building an enduring, mutually beneficial relationship of trust and candor."
"I believe this report and the efforts of this task force represent a significant step in the right direction in regards to student safety,” said UK Student Government President Roshan Palli, “and I am excited for the coming months and years as we, as a community, continue to improve our processes and practices in the best interests of this student body."
To that end, Capilouto today is forming a standing 15-member Health and Safety Task Force and Implementation Committee -- comprised of university administrators, faculty, staff, students, and representatives from surrounding neighborhoods, city government and Bluegrass Community and Technical College -- charged with implementing the recommendations in the report.
The Implementation Committee will convene in May and meet throughout the summer in a run-up to Fall 2014 when many of the recommendations are expected to be implemented. The committee is being chaired by Robert Mock, UK's vice president for Student Affairs.
A summary of recommendations from the Workgroup on Student Health and Safety that Capilouto said will be implemented for Fall 2014, includes:
· Expanding the Code of Student Conduct beyond campus boundaries. Several other campuses, including The Ohio State University, have expanded their Code of Student Conduct as part of an effort to improve safety and community relations.
· Revising the university's alcohol policy to allow consumption on campus under predetermined guidelines and conditions. Only people who are of legal age (students, employees and visitors) would be allowed to consume alcohol in prescribed places on campus.
· Developing an active enforcement task force ― composed of Lexington and campus police, the UK Office of Student Conduct and Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Student Affairs ― to coordinate reporting and handling of violations of the student code of conduct if, and when, they occur.
· Instituting a medical amnesty policy within the Code of Student Conduct for reporting instances of substance abuse or potentially dangerous situations.
· Encouraging students who live off-campus to establish positive relations with neighbors and neighborhoods and providing more formal opportunities for town forums for both UK and the broader community to exchange ideas and discuss concerns.
· Developing a more formalized, year-round community service program focused on near-campus neighborhoods.
· Rehabilitating and leasing university-owned houses and apartments in adjacent neighborhoods to faculty and staff.
· Improving and increasing student-focused prevention and education programs throughout campus and the surrounding community.
“These are solid steps forward that are good for the university’s nearby neighbors, and good for all of Lexington,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “These steps will have a positive impact, even in neighborhoods that have been changed forever. And they will provide real support in neighborhoods where there is an opportunity to renew and restore. All great cities depend on partners working together. As our community grows and as UK, Transylvania and BCTC grow, we must continue to work together.”
"I value the task of having represented the UK adjacent neighborhoods throughout the Workgroup on Student Health and Safety's comprehensive study and thank Dr. Capilouto for accepting our recommendations," said Lee Thomas, neighborhood representative on the taskforce. "As citizens of Lexington, we all carry the responsibility to protect the attributes which make our community exceptional and to improve the areas which are not. We're looking forward to the implementation of the task force's recommendations."
The workgroup was formed last year as an outgrowth of several conversations Capilouto had with neighborhood representatives regarding ways to strengthen town-gown relations.
The group examined several reports and policies from other universities, including Ohio State, Georgia and Auburn, and conducted interviews with national experts on campus safety and substance abuse issues. It submitted a report to Capilouto in December. He reviewed the report over the last several weeks and met with workgroup members in recent days to discuss their recommendations before deciding to implement the report.
Although not isolated to concerns regarding parties, off-campus alcohol use, in particular, has been a perennial issue for many years even before UK revised its alcohol policy in 1997. Statistics regarding alcohol usage and violations of law have been cyclical, according to the report, which reviewed years of data regarding arrests and other violations before and after the 1997 decision. But it is clear from the data that keeping the campus "dry" has not resulted in students drinking less; it's only changed where they drink, the data demonstrate.
Although UK is above the national average for nearly all substance-related health and safety issues in an ongoing survey that includes many Southeastern Conference institutions and students, the data is the result of increased awareness and reporting due to UK's enhanced programming for substance abuse education, said Andrew Smith, staff coordinator of the task force and director of the UK Office of Substance Education and Responsibility.
“The data obtained from our surveys indicate that UK students tend to have a work-hard/play-hard mentality," Smith said. "In general, they place a high emphasis on academic achievement but also cope with that stressor through risky substance-related behaviors. These associated behaviors are unfortunately not uncommon for college students and can be effectively addressed through proactive means of education, prevention, and policy development. I am excited to see that the University of Kentucky is openly recognizing and addressing this issue through evidence-based practices that best meet the needs of our university and our city.”
Mock, UK's vice president for Student Affairs, said the best approach to both town-gown issues and the national problem of college substance abuse is transparency and vigilance.
"Our concern is with the total well-being of our students and the community that we proudly call home," Mock said. "We have to confront issues where they exist and work together toward solutions that benefit everyone involved. This report ― and the recommendations we will adopt over time ― represent a collaborative approach to these issues. They are an important start. But what we do next and how we move forward together will be just as important to the future of our campus and this community."
For a copy of the workgroup's report, go to http://uknow.uky.edu/sites/default/files/workgroup_on_student_health_and_safety_-_final_report.doc.
The composition of the Health and Safety Task Force and Implementation Committee includes:
· Robert Mock, vice president for Student Affairs, chair
· Andrew Smith, director of UK's Office of Substance Education and Responsibility
· 3rd District Council representative
· Neighborhood representative
· UK Faculty
· UK Police
· University Relations
· UK Counseling Center
· Assistant Vice President for Public Safety
· Student Government
· Greek governing councils
· LFUCG Public Safety Commissioner
· UK HealthCare
· Office of Student Conduct
· Office of Risk Analysis and Process Improvement