For Immediate Release April 29, 2004
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
SUNY GENESEO, MERCHANTS AND VILLAGE TO SIGN PACT SUPPORTING RESPONSIBLE USE AND SALE OF ALCOHOL
GENESEO, N.Y. Officials from the State University of New York at Geneseo, local merchants and village officials Monday will sign a joint agreement affirming their support for the responsible sale and use of alcoholic beverages in the community.
The college, business owners and government representatives comprising the Geneseo Campus Community Coalition have spent the past 18 months discussing their mutual concerns about the consequences of illegal and excessive consumption of alcohol, said Robert Bonfiglio, vice president for student and campus life at the college.
The discussions resulted in the Geneseo Campus Community Compact, which states that " the Geneseo business community should be a place where the potential for contributing to any harmful acts such as underage drinking or excessive drinking is minimized, and where profitability is maintained."
The signing will take place at 11 a.m. Monday (May 3) at The Big Tree Inn, 46 Main Street, Geneseo. SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl, Village Mayor Richard Hatheway and a representative from the business community will sign the pact.
Last year, Geneseo received a $12,000 grant from New York state to create a campus-community coalition to address alcohol consumption. The grant was received as part of the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Alcohol Healthy Campus Community Demonstration Project.
The collaboration has created new dialogue among police, fraternity members, village officials, faculty and staff, Bonfiglio said. As a result of the grant, the collaborative developed a campaign aimed toward educating off-campus students how to be good neighbors and created a student patrol program similar to neighborhood watch patrols. Students went with police on calls, and the village reviewed its rental property policies.
Livingston County law enforcement officials led workshops aimed at educating local tavern staff and business owners how to better recognize false identification, confront bearers of false IDs and deal with patrons who have been drinking. The area businesses that participated in the coalition are: The Big Tree Inn, Good Spirits Wines and Liquors, Hess Mart, the In Between, the Idle Hour, the Statesman, Sugar Creek Convenience Store, Valley Liquor Shop and Wegmans.
"To me, that says something about the nature of the place," Bonfiglio said about how the community worked together to enact change.
Village Trustee Tracie Tice agreed. Members of the Geneseo community volunteered their time to address the issue, she said.
"It just has to do with everybody working together to make a better community," Tice said. "We care about the students who get dropped off in August and get picked up in May."
In signing the pact, the businesses agree to follow state law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to people under 21 years old, including ensuring all employees are trained to deal with underage drinkers and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition, the businesses will refrain from advertising on campus, the sale of plastic cups to be used off premises, and refrain from hanging banners and posters on the exterior of their businesses.
The village is agreeing to strictly enforce all laws relating to alcoholic beverages, communicate its concerns to the college and local businesses, ensure village officials are trained to increase their effectiveness in addressing the issues of underage and excessive alcohol consumption, to co-sponsor an annual workshop with the college for student tenants on tenant rights and responsibilities, and to establish a recognition program for businesses that promote a healthy community.
The college is agreeing to maintain alcohol policies that are conducive to higher learning and disseminate the alcohol policies to all students on a regular basis, to enforce its standards, provide annual training to residence hall staff on how to enforce the colleges policies, offer counseling and other support services to students so they might address the role alcohol might play in their lives, and to maintain membership in the Network of Colleges and Universities Committed to the Elimination of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
Geneseos program was modeled after programs at SUNY Albany, SUNY New Paltz and Syracuse University. American colleges have increasingly developed new programs to combat the increase in underage drinking. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported in 2003 that 87 percent of adults drink their first alcoholic drink before age 21 and that the prevalence of lifetime alcohol abuse is greatest for those who begin drinking by age 14. The research also revealed that young females are drinking more. In 1991, 22.4 percent of 10th-grade girls and 31.4 percent of 10th-grade boys reported binge drinking, while by 1999 the girls had narrowed the gender gap to within two percentage points of their male classmates.
Geneseo has peer health counselors and ensures that alcohol issues are addressed during first-year orientation. The college also has created new programs, such as Late Knight Geneseo, to provide students a venue to socialize outside of the bar scene. In fact, one recent event at the non-alcoholic dance club a foam party was such a hit that the college repeated it, Bonfiglio said.