To remain eligible for federal education funds, institutions of higher education must comply with mandates aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse, violence, exploitation, and discrimination. “Dear Partner” and “Dear Colleague” letters carry the force of law and may upend the interpretation of existing requirements. In this two-part series, we look at two recent communications from federal regulators, and how MyStudentBody can help institutions respond.
On September 23, the US Department of Education (DOE) joined forces with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in a “Dear Partner” letter to college and university administrators announcing that under the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, campus drug abuse prevention programs would fall under increased scrutiny.
Schools have been required to provide prevention programs under Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) Part 86 (the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Act) since 1990. But on many campuses, alcohol is the primary concern. The September letter emphasized drug abuse prevention and treatment in a new way, calling for systematic early identification and treatment of students with substance abuse disorders and increased partnership with college-level recovery programs.
The letter also explicitly pointed out the requirement to cover drug abuse programs and sanctions in the upcoming Part 86 biennial review. As you assemble your report over the next year, keep in mind that the DOE is looking for evidence that your program actively addresses illegal drug use. If drug prevention hasn’t been an emphasis on your campus in recent years, now is the time to make sure your program goals and strategies include it.
- Both laws and medical knowledge change, sometimes rapidly. Make sure the drug messages in your annual notification are up to date.
- President Obama has set a goal of reducing illegal drug use in the US by 10% over the next 5 years. Consider a similar goal for your campus.
- If you survey your students or staff as part of your biennial review process, be sure to include questions on both drug and alcohol use and treatment.
- The review requires you to recommend revisions, so if you find your program falls short in its approach to drugs, investigate ways to more effectively promote the DOE/ONDCP goals going forward.
Also make the most of any tools and data you currently use that do address drug use. The drugs section in MyStudentBody Essentials provides prevention education on both prescription and illicit drug abuse, and MyStudentBody Admin reports data that can help you assess the prevalence and severity of drug abuse on your campus.