UVM President Takes Aim At Party Culture

Mar 20, 2014

University of Vermont President Thomas Sullivan is assembling a university task force on substance abuse to address what he says is “a very real obstacle” to students’ ability to learn and engage at the university.

UVM frequents “top party schools” lists online and in print, but Sullivan said in a letter to students last month that this culture and its broad acceptance is far too costly.

“Along with campuses across the nation, we as a community have seen students struggle, leave our university, and in some cases have mourned their deaths,” he wrote.

Sullivan, now in his fourth semester as UVM president seems ready for the university to shed the “party school” image:

It is important to acknowledge that this work addresses undesirable parts of our culture with which institutions of higher education have struggled for many years. They have, unfortunately, become rationalized and normalized as “just part of college life.” We simply cannot accept this; we must take action and ensure that we commit ourselves to long-term success of the health, safety and well being of our campus community.

The letter says that “during this semester, I will appoint a campus-wide task force of students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni to begin to address these issues broadly and effectlively.”

Reached by email Thursday, university spokesman Jeff Wakefield said the task force is not yet fully assembled, but will be in the coming weeks.