Elva Giddings, director of Primary Prevention and Wellness, and Randy Stegmeier, chief of University Police, sent a message to all Western Washington University students last week regarding drug and alcohol use and enforcement. The full text of their message:
While it is still early in the academic year, we want to remind students that Western enforces consequences for violating university policies on campus regarding alcohol and other drug use and that University Police is collaborating with the Bellingham Police in off-campus enforcement of related laws as well. For those who need a stronger reminder, we want to remove all doubt…THE BELLINGHAM POLICE AND UNIVERSITY POLICE WILL BE OUT IN THE COMMUNITY ENFORCING ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUG LAWS.
Why are we sending this note? Because alcohol and other drug misuse is highly correlated with multiple negative impacts on both the individual and the surrounding community. More important, Western students enroll here based on our clear values and focus on academic excellence, welcoming environment, and healthy lifestyles. Our values are unequivocally stated: “Western Washington University is committed to an environment which is free of alcohol and other drug abuse for students, faculty, and staff. It maintains this commitment in support of academic excellence, work performance and quality of life as well as the future well-being of this community.”
The majority of Western students have spent the first few weeks of fall quarter establishing their academic and personal routines. Those routines are important as they allow you to balance your classes, studies, work, recreation, volunteerism, and exploration of leadership opportunities. They reflect the reason you applied to Western and were admitted as part of a very select group of students with a clear focus on “active minds changing lives.”
Yet, some Western students have chosen alcohol and other drug use that is putting their academic success and health at risk as well as negatively impacting those around them. National studies clearly demonstrate that students who misuse alcohol or engage in other drug use are more likely to experience academic problems, including poor performance on tests and projects, missed classes, and an inability to focus resulting in lower grades. The national research around such choices is clear… you are risking your investments in your education.
We are all responsible for the creation of a healthy learning community. Examine the choices that you are making. Get involved in the prevention efforts and healthy social and recreational activities that Western provides on campus. Become a Lifestyle Advisor with Prevention and Wellness Services. Invite your friends to choose healthy options. If you live off-campus, become an active part of your neighborhood by joining your neighborhood association, becoming a member of the AS Viking Community Builders club, or getting involved with the Campus Community Coalition. And please seek help if you are dealing with a personal issue or have a concern about a friend’s misuse of alcohol or other drugs. Be the change you want to see in the world!
Elva Giddings, Director - Primary Prevention and Wellness
Randy Stegmeier, Chief - University Police Department