Student Health Services to hold Alcohol and Other Drugs conference

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SHS is hoping the conference will encourage an environment that fosters partnerships and collaboration across the UConn community around the issue of alcohol and drug use, Onoroto said. (File/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Student Health Services (SHS) will be kicking off a year-long initiative to prevent drug and alcohol use-related issues with a conference on Tuesday.

The event, titled “Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Stakeholders Call to Action,” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Alumni House. It will use expert information and national practices as framework for a strategy aiming to prevent and reduce harm related to drug and alcohol use at UConn, according to Student Health Services Executive Director Suzanne Onorato.

“Student Health Services, which includes Wellness and Prevention Services, decided to host the Alcohol and Other Drugs Stakeholders Call to Action conference in response to growing national awareness and concern about alcohol and other drug problems on college campuses,” Onorato said. “We are hoping that the AOD Stakeholders conference will create a foundation and common understanding of national AOD issues and successful strategies that might be applicable to the UConn environment.”

The morning will feature speeches such as “Addressing Substance Use on College Campuses: Opportunities for Prevention, Challenges and Lessons Learned in a Changing Climate” and “Designing a Strategic Plan: Preventing and Reducing Alcohol and Other Drug-Related Harms on Campus,” according to the SHS website. The afternoon will consist of breakout sessions designed to create a UConn-specific action plan that aims to positively influence the university’s campus culture regarding alcohol and other drugs.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be University of Washington professor Jason Kilmar, Ph.D., who Onoroto said is a nationally recognized expert on prevention and intervention efforts for alcohol and other drug use by college students.

“Dr. Jason Kilmer works at the University of Washington in both a student affairs and a research capacity,” the SHS website says. “Jason is an associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and serves as an investigator on several studies evaluating prevention and intervention efforts for alcohol, marijuana and other drug use by college students.”

Kilmer is also the Assistant Director of Health and Wellness for Alcohol and other Drug Education at the University of Washington’s Division of Student Life and serves as the chairperson of Washington’s College Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention, according to the website.

SHS is hoping the conference will encourage an environment that fosters partnerships and collaboration across the UConn community around the issue of alcohol and drug use, Onoroto said.

“Many departments and services at UConn have done outstanding work around issues related to alcohol and other drug use,” Onoroto said. “This good work has prepared us to go to another level by creating a common effort across many departments, including Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Public Safety, Diversity and Inclusion, other community partners, and most importantly, from UConn students themselves.”

Onoroto said that community coalition approach requires interested stakeholders to come together to form a shared action plan with the ultimate goal of enhancing the UConn college experience and supporting students’ success.

“A comprehensive AOD campus-wide effort requires many invested partners,” Onoroto said. “We are hoping that the AOD Stakeholders Call to Action conference will encourage an environment that fosters partnerships and collaboration across the UConn campus community around this issue.”


Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.

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