Promoting safe decisions

Student Wellness and Health Promotion teams up with police departments

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10:22 a.m., Aug. 29, 2012--The start of the school year is a critical time for students, and Student Wellness and Health Promotion (formally Wellspring) at the University of Delaware is kicking off a campaign to ensure students get a healthy and safe start.

As a result of a grant awarded to the University to curb the dangers of drinking, Student Wellness and Health Promotion, University of Delaware Police and Newark Police are teaming up to form a strong presence in risky situations during the beginning of the semester. 

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The funding for the increased police presence and enforcement comes from the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG). The SPF-SIG is provided by the federal government to the state of Delaware to build a statewide infrastructure to address alcohol abuse.

As a recipient of a SPF-SIG grant, UD has developed a strategic plan to keep students safe during the first six weeks of school, a time period sometimes referred to as the “red zone.”

Nancy Chase, director of Student Wellness and Health Promotion, said the red zone has always been a very important time to inform students about the dangers of heavy drinking and its relationship to sexual assault and other serious consequences. Students make many transitions at the start of the semester, and high-risk alcohol usage can negatively affect these transitions. 

“The first six weeks is a crucial adjustment period for incoming freshmen,” said Chase. 

During the initial weeks of college, new students can develop a social identity, find their niche, become homesick and sink or swim academically.

UD Police Chief Patrick Ogden said the police are not trying to get students in trouble. Instead, police teams are first and foremost protecting student safety at a time when students are faced with many important decisions. 

“With increased alcohol consumption comes decreased decision making ability,” said Ogden. 

UD coordinates alternative activities and programs to assist students, such as the first year tailgate, which provides students with non-drinking related activities such as music, games and prizes. 

Community focus

In addition to the safety of students, the enforcement of policies and laws during the initial weeks of school benefits the well being of the community. 

Starting this weekend through the assistance of the grant, Newark Police and University Police are joining forces to form teams of two officers, one from each department, to protect both students and the residents of Newark.

“The teams emphasize that we are working together,” said Ogden. Though joint patrols between UD and Newark Police are nothing new, this added initiative aims to keep students safe while showing them how to be a good neighbor in the community.

“Our campus is not a traditional campus,” Ogden continued. “Students walk on- and off-campus several times to get to the stadium.” 

Chase said these additional efforts are meant to help “preserve the way of life” for residents of Newark as well as the University community on- and off-campus.

About Student Wellness and Health Promotion

Student Wellness and Health Promotion seeks to provide University of Delaware students with a safe and healthy environment where they can grow and learn. Through prevention, intervention and education, Student Wellness and Health Promotion gives students the tools to make healthy choices and succeed academically. 

The Student Wellness and Health Promotion office is located on 231 South College Ave., Newark, DE 19716. For more information or questions, contact studentwellness@udel.edu or call the office at 302-831-3457. 

About the grant

The Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant supports community efforts to prevent substance abuse. Funding for this project has been provided by the Delaware Department for Health and Social Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The SPF is a five-step process assisting states in developing prevention plans and providing funding to communities to execute the plans. 

Article by Kelley Bregenzer

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