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Brown University has had a dean for chemical dependency for about 10 years. His job: to discuss students' drug and alcohol habits with them. To supplement his work, Brown has created a special office which deals exclusively with education about alcohol and drugs.
Meanwhile, Harvard is struggling to get any sort of far-reaching, comprehensive program off the ground. Colleges nationwide have myriad ways of handling the ever-pressing problem of drug use and here is a rundown of how three other New England colleges approach the issue:
Brown officials say that they have just conducted a campus-wide survey on drug use, but refuse to release specific numbers. Toby Simons, director of health education, says that alcohol was the most abused substance, but that students also reported using marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.
The problem seems more acute at Brown. While Harvard's University Health Services reports few incidents of chemical abuse, doctors at Brown's clinic see about four to six cases of alcohol abuse per weekend and a couple of cases of drug use per month. "I think students are a little bit more paranoid about being caught with drugs," Simons says.
The Providence R.I. school also has a rigid set of procedures for dealing with students who are caught with any illegal substances. For the first offense, the student receives a letter from the dean, requiring him to sit in on a seminar sponsored by the office for education about alcohol and drugs, Simons says.
On the second offense, or if the student fails to attend the seminar, the action is followed up and a third offense entails a hearing. Simons adds that students have been suspended and put on probation for alcohol use, but she did not think any students had been suspended this year.
Drug use is more tightly controlled a little closer to home at Boston University. Since the school year started, BU has rescinded the housing privileges of six students for possession of drugs or alcohol, says Scott Edwards, a BU spokesman.
BU students who deal drugs or use serious drugs such as cocaine face expulsion, Edwards adds. Most of the students who were thrown out of the residence halls this fall were underage, and involved in incidents in which they became drunk and acted in a destructive manner, he says.
Slightly to the south, Yale University has much the same stance toward drug use as Harvard. Students must have special university-distributed i.d. cards in order to drink at college-wide parties. Two weeks ago, however, an undergraduate at the New Haven campus died of what is assumed to be alcohol poisoning.
The death has shocked the Yale community into action, campus observers say. In response to many questions about the dangers of chemical abuse, the health educator and substance abuse counselor began sponsoring forums on alcohol, says Dr. Robert L. Arnstein, a psychiatrist who heads Yale's mental health services. "Everyone was upset over the death, but I suspect there is still some drinking," Arnstein says.
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