Ongoing look at drinking culture sparks discussion

bheisse@centredaily.comJanuary 31, 2010 

Our Focus on Excessive Drinking weekly series continues into a second month Monday with reports from two well-attended sessions that brought people from town and gown together to share concerns and discuss improvements.

The Public Issues Forum of Centre County drew 206 participants to a wide-ranging discussion at Schlow Centre Region Library. We previewed it and covered the November event in the Centre Daily Times, and on Monday we’ll publish two columns that recap the community concerns presented and summarize themes and suggestions for moving forward.

More recently, alumni fraternity leaders organized a meeting Jan. 13 at Tau Kappa Epsilon bringing town and gown together for what State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham called “a watershed event.” A report on Monday will recap that evening’s session and identify potential actions that were discussed.

These reports will spark discussions and lead to follow-ups, no doubt, as Focus on Excessive Drinking is highlighted on the Views page through the spring semester. Thanks to readers who’ve sent contributions already and those who have e-mailed just to say this is welcome and long overdue.

There’s room in this series for many viewpoints, and there’s certainly room for every group to share what is being discussed. Many people have been working hard on this issue for years, but new voices are being heard and there’s reason to expect changes in the right direction starting in 2010.

All of our content in this series is housed at CentreDaily.com/ drinking and is posted to our Focus for Excessive Drinking Facebook page. We encourage you share it with others.

A couple of events are on the horizon that will draw headlines and impact these discussions. One is the ill-conceived student-led State Patty’s Day celebration slated for Feb. 27 and another is a community session on March 23 that will continue the conversations of the Public Issues Forum.

State Patty’s Day, which has become an annual black mark on Happy Valley, was the topic of our editorial titled “Grab control of State Patty’s” on this page last Monday. That editorial offered suggestions and is linked to this column online. It will take a united effort of community and campus leaders to promote and tolerate only responsible drinking and actions.

The community session is in the planning stages and will get widespread visibility as part or our series. There’s every hope that the conversations held on March 23 will produce specific recommendations for action.

In all, there’s momentum to make a difference in the drinking culture because it is top of mind in town and on campus in early 2010, with many people participating in the discussions. Focus on Excessive Drinking will provide a venue here every Monday.

• • •

The Public Issues Forum of Centre County had one of its largest turnouts in November, but it merits another strong turnout when it tackles the topic: “Violent kids: Can we change the trend?”

The three approaches for this session, slated for Feb. 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Schlow Centre Region Library, will be outlined on the Views page on Saturday as we continue our partnership with the group.

These are the approaches: kids need a nonviolent popular culture; kids at risk of violence need more help; and kids need more moral discipline.

Look for essays on these approaches by different writers on Saturday and perhaps make plans to attend this important discussion.

As always, please contact me with concerns you have about anything in the Centre Daily Times or CentreDaily.com.

Executive Editor Bob Heisse can be reached at bheisse@centredaily.com

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