In wake of, “A River of Booze,” Georgia’s higher ed system to review alcohol, drug abuse

By David Pendered

Six months after a national publication featured University of Georgia in a story titled, “A River of Booze,” the chancellor has formed a task force on alcohol and substance abuse.

The University of Georgia was featured in a national publication in a story titled, "A River of Booze." Credit: chronicle.com

The University of Georgia was featured in a national publication in a story titled, “A River of Booze.” Credit: chronicle.com

Chancellor Hank Huckaby announced Tuesday he has created the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force. The co-chairs are Jere Morehead, president of University of Georgia, and Cheryl Dozier, president of Savannah State University.

Huckaby named 18 members – 16 adults and two students. Two more students are to be appointed at, “a later date.” The statement did not say when the task force is to report its findings to the chancellor.

The account published in chronicle.com, the digital publication of The Chronicle for Higher Education, shows that the heavy use of alcohol during spring break, by college students in general, actually is an everyday norm at Georgia’s flagship institution. According to the story:

Hungover UGA students are now pulled over in the morning for suspected drunken driving on their way to class, the story quotes UGA police Chief Jimmy as saying.

One student last year posted a blood alcohol content of 0.33 – more than four times the legal limit – according to the story.

Former UGA student William Finley Trosclair, described as a "kingpin of fake IDs" when he was enrolled at UGA, pleaded guilty to mulitple felony counts of manufacturing and distributing false identity documents that he and others sold for up to $100 each. Credit: chronicle.com

Former UGA student William Finley Trosclair, described as a “kingpin of fake IDs” when he was enrolled at UGA, pleaded guilty to mulitple felony counts of manufacturing and distributing false identity documents that he and others sold for up to $100 each. Credit: chronicle.com

A 19-year-old co-ed who stumbled, fell and became unconscious, awakened and was asked who is the president of the United States. She named the president of her sorority.

Student drinking generates taxes for the local government and puts money in the pockets of the bar owners, landlords, and the alcohol industry.

Amid this environment, Huckaby was quoted in a statement released by the University System of Georgia as saying:

  • “The Campus Safety and Security Committee found that alcohol and other substance abuse plays an overwhelming role in campus sexual assaults. We want to ensure that we address those matters that have been found to adversely affect the safety and security of our students.”

The scope of the task force’s work entails:

  • UGA senior Adam Tenny organizes alcohol-free parties for students in his work with the student group, whose motto is, "When was the last time you had your mind blown?” Credit: chronicle.com

    UGA senior Adam Tenny organizes alcohol-free parties for students in his work with the student group, Phi Slam, whose motto is, “When was the last time you had your mind blown?” Credit: chronicle.com

    “Conduct a comprehensive review of policies and procedures relating to alcohol and substance abuse at University System institutions;

  • “Review the impact of alcohol licensing;
  • “Address other matters it deems appropriate.”

The report in chronicle.com provided a fairly comprehensive report of the culture of drinking in Athens. It begins with the view from the police chief and navigates through sections that profile a provider of fake IDs, a bar owner, an educator, a planner of alcohol-free parties, and finally – the tailgater.

The section on the tailgaters focuses on the Libation Station, sponsored by Jason Bening and Rick Floyd, at the corner of South Lumkin and Wray streets:

“For today’s tailgate, Mr. Bening says, he and Mr. Floyd spent about $2,000 on food and maybe another two or three grand on booze. Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniel’s, and 18 handles of Ketel One vodka. ‘A whole lotta alcohol,’ Mr. Bening says. ‘We’re down to the last two bottles of Ketel One.’”

The 16 members of the task force, in addition to the co-chairs, are:

  • Vice President for Student Affairs Teresa Thompson, Georgia Southern University
  • Lead Health Educator Ron King, University of West Georgia
  • Director of Public Safety Justin Gaines, University of North Georgia
  • Associate General Counsel Qiana Wilson, Georgia College & State University
  • Dean of Students and Director of Housing Jeff Jacobs, Clayton State University
  • Executive Director of Community Engagement Brian Wooten, Kennesaw State University
  • Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Monica Swahn, Georgia State University
  • Student Government Association President Juawn Jackson, Georgia College & State University
  • Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Jodi Johnson, Dalton State College
  • Student Government Association President Katherine Fromm, Dalton State College
  • Assistant Dean of Students Darcy Bragg, Georgia Southwestern State University
  • Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Werling, South Georgia Technical College
  • Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair, Emory University
  • Director of Member Services Lisa Macke, Georgia Independent College Association
  • Deputy Director of Government Relations Marci Rubensohn, Georgia Municipal Association
  • Human Resources Director for Unified Government Lisa Ward, Athens-Clarke County
  • At a later date, a student from the University of Georgia and Savannah State University will be added.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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