May 22, 2001

Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: May 22, 2001

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-The problems that arise when teens drink alcohol won't go away. In response to this persistent dilemma, Middlebury College is sponsoring a symposium on June 10-11 titled "From High School to College: Alcohol, Athletics and Hazing." Symposium organizers have invited teams of representatives from secondary schools comprising a national sample of schools from which the College draws its students. The teams will include the principal or headmaster, dean of students or the equivalent, director of athletics, and health educators. A number of Middlebury staff and athletic coaches will attend as well.

In June 1999, the College held a similar symposium on the transition from high school to college and the problem of student binge drinking. Speakers and participants examined the phenomenon of binge drinking and explored ways in which high schools and colleges can work together to address destructive student drinking behaviors.

Mike Schoenfeld, Middlebury College dean of enrollment planning, said, "Two years ago, our symposium on binge drinking helped us identify some major issues related to teen drinking. We wanted to continue this dialogue with high schools about the critical topic of alcohol abuse-a national problem that affects students and learning at high schools and colleges alike."

Representatives from 11 schools across the country, including two in Vermont- Vergennes Union High School and Champlain Valley Union High School-have confirmed that they will attend "

The research indicates that the majority of students who indulge in heavy drinking at college begin drinking while in high school. The goal of the symposium is to explore the connection alcohol seems to have with athletics and student hazing, and to discuss ways in which colleges and high schools can work together to address the problem," said Schoenfeld.

The event will begin on Sunday, June 10 with a pre-conference session reviewing the highlights of the 1999 alcohol symposium. Yonna McShane, director of health and wellness education at Middlebury College, will lead the session, "Informed Choices: Transitioning to College with the Advent of Binge Drinking."

Middlebury College President John M. McCardell, Jr. will then welcome the participants and officially launch the symposium. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Joel Fish, director of the Center for Sport Psychology in Philadelphia, Penn., who will give a talk titled "Alcohol and Group Dynamics/Hazing." He has worked extensively with athletes of all ages and skills levels, from youth sport through the Olympic and professional ranks. Fish has served as a sport psychology consultant for the Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, and Eagles, as well as the United States Women's National Soccer Team. He has been quoted frequently in the local Philadelphia and national media, and appeared on numerous television shows, including NBC's "Today" and HBO's "Real Sports."

Other symposium events on Sunday include a panel discussion by professionals from the Middlebury College staff and high school representative Jeff Desjarles, health and life skills program director and assistant dean of students at Concord Academy in Concord, Mass.

On Monday, June 11, Robin Harris, director of health enhancement at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, will give a talk titled "Accessing Athletic Departments For Prevention-An Interdisciplinary Approach." A Middlebury College graduate, she has been working in the field of substance abuse for more than 15 years, focusing specifically on student-athletes for 10 years. Harris has served as a consultant for the National College Athletic Association, and provided substance abuse prevention workshops for Division I, II and III athletic programs at colleges and universities around the country.

The two-day event will conclude with discussions of possible outcomes from the symposium. "We hope that this symposium continues an ongoing dialogue and stimulates new conversations between administrators at Middlebury and representatives from the participating high schools on the topic of athletics and drinking," said Schoenfeld. "We want to share information and hear suggestions."

Representatives from the following 11 schools have confirmed that they will attend:
Champlain Valley Union High School, Hinesburg, Vt.
Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, N.J.
Concord Academy, Concord, Mass.
Columbus School for Girls, Columbus, Ohio
Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.
Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass.
Suffield Academy, Suffield, Conn.
Holderness School, Plymouth, N.H.
Taft School, Watertown, Conn.
Lakeside School, Seattle, Wash.
Vergennes Union High School, Vergennes, Vt.