Because the fundamental mission of higher education is, indeed, to educate, academic achievement is primary. Universities have a responsibility, the Task Force believes, to develop policies, procedures and services consistent with their mission that maximize academic success, learning and personal growth. Each university’s task is to create the best possible environment, consistent with its values and with the principles of individual freedom and responsibility, for learning. Faculty, staff and students have a vital stake in an environment most conducive to learning in all its forms, a place of civility and safety that promotes responsible choices, healthy relationships, and regard for all.
We need your help in making clear to students that the abuse of alcohol is not simply some rite of passage we will tolerate. You can do that by speaking out on the subject, and I hope you will do that. You have far more influence than you might imagine!…
In short, let’s use these first few weeks of the new semester to affirm the culture for learning to which we are committed.…”
Robert L. Carothers
President, University of Rhode Island
Letter to his faculty, Fall 1997
Higher education has a responsibility to promote the human development of students, to teach citizenship and leadership skills. The collegiate experience provides a rich environment in which students can explore and develop beliefs that will guide their moral and ethical behavior, an environment in which they can learn new behaviors. Education is more than merely passing on facts. As role models university people have the opportunity to pass on key life skills that lead to maturity: motivation, self-discipline, judgment, and esteem for one’s self and others.
Students need to be free from the second-hand effects of the irresponsible and dangerous behaviors of others: violence, sexual harassment and assault, unwanted sexual encounters, impaired driving, and sleep problems. To be successful, colleges and universities must develop policies regarding alcohol use that are consistently reinforced and that include prevention and other responses. They must pay particular attention to new underage students who are most at risk and most anxious to find favor with their peers.