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November 7, 2011

Colleges in Virginia and across the country are back is session and Virginia College Parents has a full agenda to consider in this our eleventh year as a publicly supported, tax exempt, non-profit, educational organization. This past year has, however, been characterized by a lower than hoped for level of activity as board membersí available time has been stretched thin. As you know, Virginia College Parents, Inc. was formed in response to a recommendation by the Virginia Attorney General's Task Force on Drinking by College Students in 1998 to form a statewide parents group concerned with the issues related to alcohol and drug abuse in college. At last year's annual meetings, six directors serving the previous year were re-elected for an additional year. I was re-elected as President, Ms. Becki Brady was re-elected as Vice President and Mr. Jim Robinson was re-elected as Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer. Mr. John Cole, a parent of a college student victim and former board member who now resides in North Carolina and Ms. Teresa Robinson, also a parent of a college student victim and former board member remained on the board as non-voting directors emeritus. We therefore have had as directors seven parents of current Virginia college students. Four of our directors are parents of college alcohol-related tragedy victims. We continue to search for volunteers from across the Commonwealth to serve on our board of directors.

Our Advisory Board is composed of student leaders and present or past senior distinguished officials from government, academe, and non-profit organizations and business, all of whom being a Virginia college parent and/or professionally involved in or otherwise committed to our specific mission. We currently have twenty people listed on our Board of Advisors; however, we have had minimal contact with many of them this past year and are awaiting a response to our invitation to senior state officials before reaffirming and appropriately revising membership on our Board of Advisors. Rosters listing our Board of Directors and our Advisory Board may be found on our website.

Although we have not had a requirement for legal advice or representation this past year, our pro-bono counsel remains Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice. We are extremely grateful for their offer of pro-bono services.

During this past year, members of our Board of Directors have spoken to high school and college parent and student audiences and other groups. During these presentations, we described in detail the risks associated with high-risk drinking behaviors, impaired driving and underage drinking, the physiology of alcohol consumption and legal and policy implications associated with alcohol and drug use by students. In addition to these presentations, we attended several meetings of organizations dealing with these issues including MADD, WRAP, Security on Campus, the Fairfax County Oversight Committee on Drinking and Driving and the Fairfax County Unified Prevention Coalition. In addition, we participated actively in the national dialogue on college and underage and high-risk drinking issues at several other conferences and meetings including debates where we defended the 21 drinking age. We also participated in several OJJDP, CADCA and Higher Education Center telephone conferences on underage drinking related topics and gave a number of newspaper, magazine, and television interviews on these issues.

This past year, we held three board meetings. At the first of these meetings, we discussed our very limited capability due to limitations on board member available time and decided to continue to function as best we could at a reduced level of activity. During the subsequent two meetings, in addition to routine financial, administrative and recruitment matters, we discussed and established positions on basic philosophy, both federal and state legislation, support of campus safety initiatives and means to increase membership and acquire funding. We have focused considerable attention this year on the issue of non-compliance with Part 86 of the Safe and Drug Free Schools Act.

For those interested, our federal tax filing for 2010 is on-file at the IRS and we would be happy to provide a copy upon request.

Our web site is at www.virginiacollegeparents.org; however, it is in need of updating and revitalization. Comments and suggestions for improvement are certainly welcome. We also continue to distribute our brochure which includes a significant amount of information taken from the web site.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed a significant and disturbing trend toward acceptance of underage drinking in moderate amounts as both normal and acceptable behavior by a majority of college students, many parents and much of the college alcohol and other drug prevention community in Virginia. Virginia College Parents has taken a strong stand against underage drinking and does not support the concept of encouraging or allowing underage students to drink in moderation. Nor do we support allowing underage students to drink so long as they donít drive. We believe that delaying the onset of alcohol use until at least age 21 is in the best interests of students, parents and the entire college community and we strongly encourage parents to take a proactive roll in this issue. A majority of our efforts this past year have been in supporting the 21 drinking age and increased enforcement of underage drinking laws. As I look forward, I believe this will be our major focus for the foreseeable future.

In looking forward, we intend to continue making presentations to parent, student and other audiences whenever the opportunity arises. We will attempt to update our web site and again review and update the list of things we advocate (which may be found on our website). We hope to continue the expansion of our membership base and meet our financial requirements through contributions and dues. Lastly, we plan to continue to play an active role in the national and state level dialogue on alcohol, other drug and violence prevention on campuses throughout the Commonwealth through active participation in the many organizations with which we are currently affiliated.

As a final note, I want to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to each of my fellow Board members and to our Advisory Board for their participation and assistance this past year. Our goal to change the alcohol-intense culture that currently exists on campuses throughout the Commonwealth remains. With the dedication and efforts of our board and our members, I firmly believe we can make a difference. Thank you.

Copyright © 2005 Virginia College Parents, Inc. Last modified: November 16, 2011