PULLMAN — Washington State University will do more this fall to ensure that incoming freshmen are better prepared to make healthy choices when it comes to drugs, alcohol and sex.
John Fraire, WSU’s vice president of student affairs, said the emphasis on student safety results from an increase in substance and sex abuse taking place on the Pullman campus and throughout the country in recent years.
“We aren’t any different from any other major university, but we do have a rising number of students involved in alcohol, drug and sex abuse,” Fraire said last week at a meeting of the school’s Administrative Professional Advisory Council, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.
Beginning this fall, every incoming freshman will participate in a mandatory orientation session to discuss topics related to sexual abuse, said WSU Health and Wellness Services coordinator Paula Adams.
Adams said students will learn about WSU’s rules regarding sexual misconduct, and about the effect alcohol can have on decision-making abilities.
“There isn’t just one office working on this,” Adams said. “People all around campus are addressing this issue in terms of prevention as well as response.”
Sexual abuse is historically under-reported on college campuses, Adams said.
“Based on what we know, we’ve been estimating that hundreds of incidents are happening on our campus every year, but we’ve never had reporting to match that level,” she said.
Patricia Maarhuis, a coordinator for WSU’s Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Assessment, and Prevention Services, said prescription drug abuse has been rising on campus in recent years.
“There is a national trend in terms of substance abuse in regard to prescription drugs,” Maarhuis said Monday. “We started hearing students talking about it more, or we’d have students come in for detoxification and they’d have multiple substances on board, including prescription medications.”
People have abused prescriptions for decades, but the habit seems more “pronounced” within the newest group of college students, she said.
“We’re seeing it more in this population,” she said.