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Conduct Sanctions: An Opportunity for Intervention


Written by: Alicia Baker is the Health Promotion Specialist with GatorWell Health Promotion Services at the University of Florida.


At the University of Florida, we are dedicated to making sure our student conduct sanctions are holistic to meet every substance misuse situation that becomes a conduct violation: from in-person group seminars for first-time and low level offenses to more intensive programs for upper level conduct violations with potential dependency issues.  We convened a group of individuals including representatives from GatorWell Health Promotion Services, UF Collegiate Recovery Community, University of Florida Police Department, Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, UF Housing and Residence Education, and colleagues from other departments to discuss our sanction offerings for the upcoming year.  The group discussed several particular cases to guide our policy and strategy.  During the previous year, a few students in an intensive program, known at UF as Back on TRAC, had identified as having gone through the lower level sanction seminars with what was later identified as substance use disorders (SUD).  We began to tease out solutions to how we could potentially catch these dependency issues earlier and agreed he best solution included the use of ScreenU. Campus partners around the table likes the idea of having a quick, online, evidence-based and informative screening tool that can be easily implemented without extensive training and on-boarding.

The team decided ScreenU would be required of all students that incurred an alcohol or other drug conduct violation, regardless of severity.  The use of ScreenU is supplementary to our other sanctions that are issues to a student (educational seminars, group substance misuse sessions, one-on-one substance use evaluation, etc.).  Students would not be allowed to register for any of their sanction requirements until ScreenU was completed.  Identified students would have an email sent to their university email account by their Conduct Officer that included the link to the screening and some general information about ScreenU. To confirm completion, students had to provide a screenshot or printed copy of their certificate of completion to their Conduct Officer within Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Though this past semester has been a trial period for the set-up, two positives can already be seen from the use of ScreenU.  First, our university has real-time data on alcohol use amongst our student population going through the conduct process.  Second, we have a new “safety net” to identify problematic substance use before it can develop into an addiction and the consequences that often present alongside a SUD include conduct offenses that threaten their enrollment at UF.

With the semester winding down, our stakeholders will sit down again to discuss further use of ScreenU. As it is true any University, there have been staff changes so the first priority is to determine the new contact person for ScreenU in each department, particularly between Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, Housing and Residence Education, and GatorWell.  Continued communication between these departments on use, problems, and student concerns will be essential in going forward with using ScreenU in the conduct process.  The newest version of ScreenU allows each campus to create accounts for each department on campus with an unlimited number of users (i.e. Student Conduct and Athletics have separate accounts under the umbrella account at UF).  This allows the campaigns and data to remain separate while still seeing a clear snapshot of aggregate data across the entire campus.  In addition to the new department feature, the new system will allow us to email the students the web-based link to take the screening right through the system.  This update to ScreenU will allow us to continually add emails to a respective campaign whenever an individual ends up in the conduct sanction process, whether it is during the first week of classes or after Thanksgiving Break.  This will make it easier to use in the conduct office, which we are excited about!

As of right now, 76 students have completed ScreenU as part of their conduct sanctions this semester.  My hope is that ScreenU will be able to help those 76 and more in better understanding their alcohol use, help them identify strategies to change, and experience the positive effects this program can bring.

ScreenU is a web-based screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment program available through the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery.  Learn more about ScreenU by visiting screenu.org.

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