A new semester is in full swing at the University at Albany, but so are the concerns surrounding underage drinking and drug use.
Dr. Dolores Cimini says college students engage in high risk drinking and drug use, to a large extent, due to peer pressure. Cimini, the UAlbany Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research director, says students are also experiencing freedom from their parents for the first time.
"With new freedom, with peer pressure, with less structure, there is a temptation to engage in excessive drinking and drug use," Cimini said.
She was one of the UAlbany officials addressing those issues at a town hall Tuesday afternoon on campus. They were joined by law enforcement, elected officials, and experts in the field, discussing concerns with students.
"I think the climate on this campus is those issues need to be put out front and center," said Austin Ostro, UAlbany graduate student and SUNY Student Assembly president.
Ostro says it's important for students to know the laws and understand the consequences. Ostro says it's also crucial for colleges to have the right resources.
"We as the SUNY student assembly are going to be going to the governor and legislature to advocate for greater funding for campus mental health resources, for students both on a path to and already on the grips of addiction," Ostro said.
The town hall also included Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, and Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins. UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez says they have seen improvements over the last 15 years, but he says there is still more work to be done when it comes to drinking and drug use.
"It really gets students to think about these important issues and how they can work with us and our communities to address [them]," Rodríguez said.