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Project Title:Boosting Student Responsibility through a Tavern Owners AgreementInstitution Name:State University of New York at New Paltz Innovation Category:Campus Safety/Student Health & Wellness Project Director:Robin Cohen-La Valle, Dean of StudentsContact Information:(845) 257-3261, cohenr@newpaltz.eduWebsite:http://sites.newpaltz.edu/news/2014/03/tavern-owners-recommit-to/
Project Description:The Tavern Owners Agreement, originally established in 1999, was facilitated by the College and strongly supported by town and village officials. In addition to providing guidelines for self-monitoring their business practices, efforts increased to educate students about responsible and lawful consumption of alcohol and appropriate civic customer behavior as it relates to their safety and academic success. The Agreement is complemented by the innovative collaboration to promote a “Good Neighbor” initiative and “OneLess” alcohol prevention campaign.
Objectives:These unique and important collaborations reinforce the College’s commitment to the safety of its students and community members as well as its continued efforts to help students be good neighbors and decrease alcohol- and noise-related incidents. They also encourage students to make good low-risk choices and offer practical strategies to promote risk reduction and to decrease high-risk drinking.
  • Students who display disruptive or illegal behavior in town now receive a letter from the College indicating its awareness of such behavior and a reminder that such incidents may be subject to the campus judicial process.
  • Tavern owners have made changes in their advertisements to comply with this voluntary agreement.
  • Communication between tavern owners and the College has been greatly increased.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The perception that colleges want what’s best for the campus rather than what’s best for local business is part and parcel of town/gown relations. Bar owners were understandably concerned by increased competition from off campus ‘house parties’ and the belief that giving up inexpensive drink specials would negatively impact their profits. They found the opposite to be true—they had better profits, fewer alcohol-fueled altercations and fewer arrests in their establishments. For its part, the College instituted mandatory “Risk Management Guidelines for Fraternities and Sororities,” which address problematic house parties. Such guidelines exist to this day.
Evaluation Approach:The Tavern Owners Association meets regularly to review each other’s advertising and practices, addressing concerns as they arise. In addition, during new student orientation, presentations are made by the dean of students, university police and town police regarding off-campus behavior, civility in local neighborhoods and adjudication through the campus judicial process. Learning outcomes data related to these presentations is collected to ensure students have retained the information.
Potential for Replication:Because the safety and well-being of students and the community in which they live are top priorities for many higher-education institutions, the potential for replication is high. SUNY New Paltz modeled its program on a similar program at the University at Albany.
Additional Resources:

Media coverage:

New Paltz renews old Tavern Owners Agreement (New Paltz Times)
Responsible drinking pact celebrates 15 years in Paltz (Times Herald-Record)
New Paltz bar owners recommit to preventing underage and binge drinking (Daily Freeman)
New Paltz taverns renew responsible drinking pledge (Mid-Hudson News)                                                                                                                           Tavern Owners Agreement Re-signed (New Paltz Oracle)

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Donald P. Christian , Presidentpresident@newpaltz.edu
(845) 257-3288
Date Published: Thursday, June 26, 2014