Following the tragic alcohol-related deaths of five college students in Virginia in the fall of 1997, Virginia's Attorney General convened a task force on drinking by college students to study the problem at Virginia's colleges and universities. The task force was also to develop recommendations to change the culture of alcohol abuse that plagued many campuses in Virginia. Presidents of public universities and colleges in Virginia, key legislators, judicial authorities, senior law enforcement officials, heads of State agencies, and interested citizens, including parents of students were appointed to this task force. During task force deliberations, lack of involvement by parents was repeatedly cited by the academic community as a serious problem; while failure of the schools to inform parents of the situation was viewed by the rest of the group as a serious concern.
This debate directly led to consideration of this issue within Congress and inclusion of the provisions in the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, allowing notification of parents by colleges and universities in the event of an alcohol or drug related incident involving a violation of state law or school policy. Additionally, based upon an initiative by the Attorney General and his predecessor, the task force recommended the formation of a statewide parents group to educate parents and students and to advocate change regarding campus alcohol and drug abuse. A member of the task force agreed to lead formation of the parents group, Virginia College Parents, while the Attorney General and other State agency heads offered their support. Funding for this group quickly became a major issue. As a result, the organization became a publicly supported, non-profit educational organization under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRS). Following recruitment of a Board of Directors and development of a set of By-Laws, the organization was incorporated in Virginia and approved as a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation by the IRS. An Advisory Board was formed, comprising senior leaders in government, academe, and business. Members of the Advisory Board have a direct interest in the campus drug and alcohol environment, and ensure a balanced and fair approach to the complex issues involved. Members of the Board of Directors manage the day-to-day activities of Virginia College Parents, Inc., and have regularly spoken to college and high school students and parent audiences on the risks involved in hi-risk and underage drinking and drunk driving. Members of the Board of Directors are also active in numerous other organizations involved with these issues.