[Fresh] Interview with Paul Pugh, Dean of Students

Kelly Eastland (kelly.eastland@villanova.edu)
Wed, 24 Oct 2001 09:41:22 -0400

Interview with Paul Pugh, Dean of Students

Fresh@news. Tell us a little about the Dean of Students Office.

Dean Pugh. The Dean of Students Office supports students in all aspects
of their lives, and assists students in their development as individuals
and as members of the community. The Office is responsible for:
promulgating and upholding community standards for the student
community; serving as liaison with the local township; coordinating the
University's efforts to address alcohol abuse; and overseeing student
behavior. The Office is also responsible for administering the Code of
Student Conduct and overseeing the University's judicial process.
Finally, the Dean of Students Office is a resource for all student
concerns, whether of a personal or academic nature, and attempts to
assist students in all aspects of their college experience.
Unfortunately, most students think our office is mainly judicial and try
to avoid us.

Fresh@news. Your office coordinates alcohol education for students.
What types of things are you doing?

Dean Pugh. Our efforts include prevention measures, intervention
techniques, enforcement of policy and education . I should point out
that the Student Code of Conduct is clear regarding enforcement of
Pennsylvania law for underage drinking. Regarding educational
approaches, this year we implemented a program called AlcoholEdu for all
freshmen and started a social norms campaign.

Fresh@news. Let's start with the first program you mentioned, what is
AlcoholEdu?

Dean Pugh AlcoholEdu is an online program that educates students about
the effects of alcohol on the body and mind. The course is easy to use
and students can work at their own pace. It contains 6 chapters with
interactive exercises, case studies and multiple choice questions about
alcohol. After completing the chapters, there is a final test of 40
questions.

Fresh@News How long does it take?

Dean Pugh The entire program takes about 3 hours to complete, but
students do not have to complete it at one time. They can do a section
and go back to it later. Students were informed about the program
during Orientation and have until October 19th to complete the program.
So far, about 1300 students have enrolled or completed the program.

Fresh@News What's the general reaction?

Dean Pugh It's really too early to predict. The interactive nature
seems to keep them interested, for example, the program gives situations
where they must compute their blood alcohol content. Some have said,
"It's too long, but I learned a lot." While students may think it's too
long, the students have 7-8 weeks to finish the program, so it is not
an overwhelming task. I went through the program and was surprised by
how many new things that I learned. In fact, we have a few extra
AlcoholEdu packages that I would like to offer to parents. If parents
are interested in going through the program, they can contact me by
sending an email to paul.pugh@villanova.edu

Fresh@News What other ways are you educating students about alcohol?

Dean Pugh As I mentioned earlier, the social norms campaign is new this
year to Villanova. Our survey instruments have shown that students tend
to overestimate the amount of drinking that they think their peers
consume in comparison to the actual amount, and as a result, freshmen in
particular try to emulate that false perception. The social norms
campaign informs students of what is actually happening rather than what
they think is happening with regard to alcohol behavior. Interestingly,
as perceptions are lowered, actual usage also begins to lower.

Fresh@News. Sounds interesting, but how do you do that?

Dean Pugh. Well we have a lot of data from student surveys and we're
using that information to educate students. We're sending factual
messages about our campus to the students. We've developed a poster
campaign that asks students, "What are YOU doing?" The posters have
pictures of Villanova students with statistics about alcohol
consumption. In addition, the posters also give facts about the amount
of alcohol in certain types of drinks. As incentives to hang the
posters in their rooms, we've also added some practical information.
But more importantly, we're rewarding students who have the poster on
the wall. The Alcohol Peer Educators randomly visit a number of rooms
each week. Students will receive $5 if the poster is hanging on the
wall. This has been very effective in getting information to the
students and we've even had students request additional posters!

Fresh@News. What advice would you give parents about underage drinking?

Dean Pugh. Awareness is crucial. Before students arrived on campus, I
sent a letter home and included in that letter some of our school
policies. It was my hope and intention that students and parents could
review it together. Students are held accountable, so it's important
that they understand the policy. Secondly, talk to your son/daughter
about drinking. You know your children better than we do and it's
important that they make responsible decisions. I've seen many students
make short-term poor decisions around alcohol and really hurt their
long-term, future opportunities. Continue to talk with your
son/daughter even though you're far away. Ask questions about what's
happening on campus, in their residence hall and even with their
roommates. Often, students will talk more openly about others than
about their personal behavior.

Fresh@News. If students do get into trouble with alcohol, will you
notify the parents?

Dean Pugh. Every time a student is found with alcohol, we don't
necessarily send a letter home. We try to balance the educational
learning that took place with an appropriate sanction. However, when a
student is placed on probation, we send a letter home. This is a more
serious sanction and the student could lose housing privileges or be
suspended from the University for subsequent violations.

Fresh@News. When should a parent call your office?

Dean Pugh. Parents call our office for a number of reasons. Some
parents do not know where else to turn, so they call us. If we do not
have the answer, we can usually point them in the right direction to get
the appropriate information they need. Parents and family members can
call our office at 610.519.4200. During the evenings or weekends, they
can contact our Public Safety Office at 610.519.4444.

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