Dr. Allison Smith, Senior Program Administrator at the Louisiana Board of Regents, is our guest for this episode of Prevention Profiles: Take Five. During her interview, Allison talks about the effect of natural disasters on Louisiana campuses, discusses whether COVID has affected college substance misuse rates in the state, highlights a couple of top collegiate recovery programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and much more.
Rich Lucey: Hi, this is Rich Lucey in the Drug Enforcement Administration's community outreach and prevention support section, and welcome to this episode of Prevention Profiles: Take Five.
I am excited to have as our guest today Allison Smith from Louisiana Board of Regents.
Let me tell you a little bit about Allison before she joins the podcast.
After spending eight years with the Louisiana Center addressing substance use in collegiate communities on the Louisiana state university campus,
Dr. Allison Smith is currently the program administrator for the Louisiana Center at its new home: the Louisiana Board of Regents.
In her current role, Allison facilitates the Louisiana higher education coalition, administers the statewide core survey, provides professional development training, facilitates campus-community partnerships, and provides technical assistance around substance use prevention in Louisiana's colleges.
Rich: She also supports the broader campus safety policy work and initiatives of the Louisiana Board of Regents.
Allison's experience includes internships with both the Nurse-Family Partnership and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.
Dr. Smith, a native of Baton Rouge, received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Southern University in 2009.
A Master's Degree in Public Administration from Louisiana State University in May 2011, followed by a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership, Research, and Counseling with a specialization in Higher Education Administration in 2016.
And with that, Allison, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Allison Smith: Thank you for having me.
Good afternoon, good morning, Rich.
Rich: This is very exciting because you know as we will get into a little bit, I have known you for now going on 10 years or so.
Before I get into our first question, first I want to say thank you for all that you do on social media to promote DEA's prevention resources for colleges and universities.
I think I have kiddingly said on more than one occasion I feel like sometimes you are my unofficial publicist, and it is just great to see the different tweets that you send out and the other social media posts that you put out really promoting and seeing the benefit of what we are trying to do to help prevent drug misuse on campus.
Thank you very much for that.
Allison: You are more than welcome.
I am extremely excited with all of the resources you all pull out.
One that I like not having to reinvent the wheel and you all make that very easy to do.
Rich: Well, we appreciate that.
So thank you very much.
So I am going to jump right into our first question.
So having gone through your very impressive bio, throughout all the different positions that you had during your career, both as a student and now as a professional, how has your perspective changed, if at all, as it relates to preventing drug misuse among college students?
Allison: I would have to say two things have probably been constant.
One, that you probably heard me scream about or tweet about anyway, is the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act, and the other one is harm reduction, by nature are good policies because I think I believe they help to inform the work we do to mitigate harm and to help us not have to reinvent the wheel constantly.
So yes, this is me shouting from the rooftop that I hope that an update to DFSCA will be coming really soon because when I think the help was to give everyone a level playing field to where we should be, a standard to where we should go, and I think secondly the idea of harm reduction.
So I kind of stumbled my way into this field.
So, funny, Sir Rich mentioned that we have kind of known each other almost 10 years at this point is that I applied for an internship through the National Association for Equality Higher Education.
And the way it works is they find paid internships for students from underrepresented populations from HBCUs and minority-serving institutions.
Allison: Part of that, I got placed at SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and CSAP.
When I got the call, my supervisor at the time mailing it all I had to hold on.
She let me hold on to Google CSAP because I thought it was a prank.
I had no idea about prevention, anything prevention-related before that particular call.
It has been an amazing experience since, but the only thing I had known before that was Zero-Tolerance.
Allison: What I was taught through K12 zero-tolerance, not really looking at the idea of harm reduction, and for me, that has been something working with our campus community coalitions, our community partner is educating them on the difference of harm reduction versus zero-tolerance.
And I think once we began to get honest about the fact that we do have students who are misusing substances on our campuses, that will allow us craft to craft creative and relevant programming or messaging to reduce the harm.
Allison: One other thing that I am noticing is that now we are starting to have to go back to some of those basic things that were done twenty, thirty years ago, teaching students about blood alcohol content.
What do the lines on the red solo cups mean or what is Ben's drinking.
What are the signs of alcohol poisoning and informing them of any amnesty policies that your campuses or state may have in case they need to seek help for someone who is experiencing intoxication or an overdose.
Rich: Well, It bought you -- you taught them two major issues and I am really glad that you did.
Certainly I cannot speak for another federal agency and updating their policy or guidance around the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act but, I will say this, it has been over twelve years or so since I worked there and worked with colleges and universities very closely on their requirements under those regulations.
Rich: And even though the guidance document has not changed at all, what I continue to promote for folks is that the basic principle of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act is still so relevant because it is grounded in prevention science that it makes sense every couple of years to check in with what you are doing to make sure it is effective.
Rich: That is, I think, really important in your other point of harm reduction.
I do not want to say it is a struggle but I have had -- it is such a slippery slope when you work in government, and my entire career has been working for the government, both at the New York state level and then now for the last twenty-plus years with the federal government.
Every leader I had worked for in those agencies, whether at Department of Ed, whether it was at CSAP, certainly with Fran, I dropped Fran's name on the podcast so many different times, and Harding, the former director of CSAP who is not only a dear friend of mine but my mentor.
Now at DEA, the issue of harm reduction is -- it is a compromising philosophy or concept.
What I have always tried to impress upon my leaders is to say absolutely one hundred percent, our first message should be a nonuse message.
I mean if we are talking alcohol, it is nonuse if you are under the age of twenty-one.
No matter what state you are in that has legalized marijuana despite the fact that yes, marijuana is an illegal drug federally across the entire country even in those states who have legalized it, it is illegal for those under twenty-one.
Rich: Our first message has to be nonuse, but you know what I always say is for those students who choose to ignore the law and that is really what it comes down to, we have to be able to work with colleges and universities on the types of messaging and programming that they can have for those students because they cannot just ignore them.
That has been addressed I think with the leaders I have worked for very well.
So I am glad Allison that you brought that up because I know it is a struggle you also face on campus.
Allison: Is this absolutely -- that has been the message that the nonuse is the first message but it cannot be the only message.
So in right, we have students who are having uses issues.
We need to be able to one, identify those students, and provide resources to them though that is not always the case but, it has to be multiple messages.
I know one thing that talking with other state work coalitions is messaging during the time of COVID because one, we know that students should not, like you said, under twenty-one, it is nonuse message, but we know that because in a lot of our state's bars are closed right now currently and so that students are gathering other places.
Not just even the dangers with COVID social distancing, those types of things about one, we still have to message around usage in those types of savings that we cannot ignore that.
Rich: This is going to segway into my second question.
But let me comment since you brought it up.
Obviously we are recording this as we continue all of this in the country to confront the pandemic that is facing us and because we are at the beginning of the traditional school year, we are starting to see the reports of student gatherings, student parties, schools had planned to open up and they did and now they have reversed course and I think what I would hope is that when we are talking about the large gatherings and these parties and we are talking about COVID, I would hope we do not lose also the focus on the preventing drug misuse issue because it is not only about COVID, right?
I mean, where is the messaging that we should be continuing to promote about preventing underage drinking and this other dangerous behavior, right?
Allison: Absolutely because one of the reasons why, so our governor John Bel Edwards, one of the things he noted about our borders are still currently closed, right now we are in Phase two, but one of the things he noticed is that the nature of bars themselves allow for the spread of COVID to intensify but we also do not forget the reason why students are in the bars in the first place.
They are there for the social interaction and a lot of them are there to drink and so one, I say we cannot lose that messaging, that it is no different than any other fall semester that these first six weeks are as dangerous as any other fall semester those first six weeks.
That has not changed.
Rich: Absolutely, that is such an important message.
I am really glad that you brought that out up and that we continue to talk about it because I am fearful that that messaging gets lost in the conversation and it cannot get lost.
I had mentioned you opened up a good segway into the second question having to do it statewide initiative.
So I know that one of the roles that you have is to coordinate Louisiana's statewide initiative to prevent pregnancies among college students, something I had that role of doing years ago when I did work for a friend in New York, what is perhaps the biggest challenge that you see or have with coordinating efforts across an entire state?
Allison: So which I know you love the spiff and I will pull from that and say capacity for public higher education systems including the only HBCU system in the world, the Southern University system to our robust Technical Community College system to our all four-year University of Louisiana system.
And so the LSU system, which is comprised of two and four-year institutions as well as health science centers, and so our capacity varies greatly on work any of those given schools or right at any given time on prevention.
Allison: So our Board of Regents has designation over all public colleges, but to add to all of that we also have the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities which are private or religious-affiliated institutions.
Ten of those institutions that we engage at their leisure.
And so we have some campuses that are much further along in their prevention.
It efforts that others.
So it is my job to always remember that so when I am looking at programming or professional development and technical assistance being able to bring everybody along and although it is probably my biggest challenge, I like to think of it as my biggest opportunity.
For me, it is a chance to show the schools who are developing their prevention programs by highlighting the ones who offer more robust programming and making resources available through ongoing technical assistance and professional development.
Allison: So an example is that this year, this month actually is recovery month.
And so last year we celebrated with Southeastern Louisiana University to launch a lineup recovery, which is the first collegiate recovery program in Louisiana and really championing that effort has less other schools who have expressed interest in starting the collegiate recovery program as well as broad and some funding from the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health with whom we have had a phenomenal partnership with for almost fifteen years.
Allison: And so those kinds of things now championing showing the other campuses what is possible is allowing this idea of collegiate recovery to spread across our state.
So in 2019, the Louisiana Board of Regents passed its new ten-year master plan for higher education which calls for us to move aggressively towards a robust new attainment goal that calls for sixty percent of all working-age adults, those twenty-five to sixty-four in Louisiana to hold a degree or high-value credential by 2030.
Allison: One way our work fits into this is by helping to expand our vision of talent in the prosperity pipeline through increasing collegiate recovery in Louisiana and identifying students who may have stopped their matriculation due to substance misuse and saying, "Hey now we have resources that can help support you through your college journey onto completion", and being able to pull those students and get them plugged into programs that they can obtain their degree or other high-value credentials.
Rich: So there are two parts of this I wanted to mention.
So capacity, I am so glad that you brought that up.
It was not only from my time in New York, but certainly now since my time working at CSAP where of course the spiff generated out of SAMHSA twenty-plus years ago, and now through the strategic planning guide that we have published earlier this year, which is anchored in the spiff.
I still think when I talk to campuses around the country the one step of the spiff that I think they seem to struggle with the most is around capacity.
And for me, I think where they struggle is they think it is rooted in money and I am not going to disagree that certainly having a grant federal state local, that helps, I totally get it.
Rich: But when I worked in New York, it was really just my salary.
We did not have any other funds to help support and do all the other great things we were doing across the state.
Do you see this and hear the same thing when across you in the four different systems regardless of their state of readiness that their struggles with capacity are based more on money or are there other factors?
Allison: So I think a little bit of both.
I think for overall for our state coalition, I always -- I personally said for years that I do not think money is our problem.
Then I feel like we have enough resources to do the things that we have been tasked to do.
I do feel like that in that sense, but I think more so is the human capacity.
I think kind of that where money could be tied into the actual staff people.
So we have liaisons at all of our campuses and those liaisons depend on what campus they are on, they may have a number of different job titles.
Allison: And it is the -- they may be a counselor, but they are also someone who works, who teaches, who does multiple things and I think part of it is understanding that you do not have to do it all yourself, that if you form strong partnerships and collaborations, you can bring other people in so that all of the weight does not fall on you.
I think that is part whether the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act comes in doing that by in a review, bring everybody to the table to see what everybody is doing because one, even in doing some of those with our campuses they found out there is a duplication of services where they can partner together, have a bigger event and have a bigger impact, but they can stop struggling along to individually do advance but to work together and cut out some of the duplication of services.
Well certainly in your role, that is one of the things you are keen to, you are aware of, is the duplication of effort.
You used the phrase as we often hear, you know certainly in the government of reinventing the wheel, it is helping to not duplicate those services and leverage the resources where they exist.
And so nothing about the capacity we have had some campuses that just given the financial standing or the structure of the campus is that one of our challenges that we are looking at our state is the number of Mental Health Counselors we have on our campus is available to our students and how that kind of ties into substance use.
One of the things we have seen is that we have some campuses where there is not a full-time counselor.
There is not full-time staff that are dedicated to seeing students that they have to refer out to community partners.
And so instead of having like the part-time counselor, someone at that camp is overburden.
It is our job to help facilitate that strong community partnership with they can have a contact that they can refer students to so that students do not have to wait for services or things of that sort but being able to rely on your community partners in a place where you may have a deficit.
Rich: So still staying on the topic of statewide initiatives, you mentioned, of course, September being recovery month and you mentioned some of the efforts that happened there in the state.
Is there anything you know healthier especially proud of with Louisiana's statewide efforts?
I am super excited in June of this year.
Our Board of Regents passed the Board of Regents' opioid education training and reporting policy.
It was such an amazing all-hands-on-deck process to be part of.
It was a collaborative process between our office are for Public Management Systems, the office of Behavioral Health, and our local governing entities, which function as our regional health behavioral health offices.
The policy is a great step forward and prevention measures to help keep Louisiana's college students safe from negative consequences of substance use while teaching our students in campus community members the dangers of opioid misuse and abuse and places the life-saving drug, naloxone on every public campus in Louisiana as recommended by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Allison: Something else was really -- there are three main components of the policy.
We require every campus to have an education awareness campaign around the dangers of opioid misuse.
So before the interruption of COVID, we were actually going around our state doing regional trainings, utilizing these DEA Higher State University's generation RX program, teaching on campuses that program, providing training manuals, resources for our campuses to implement.
Well, we will produce just some of those virtually as we still are not allowed to meet yet.
And then additionally, the policy requires certain training, certain persons on campus annually on how to administer naloxone such as campus law enforcement, counselors, athletic trainers or resident advisors or those who would be most likely to respond in the overdose situation.
And lastly, there is the reporting requirement that campuses will have to complete after an on-campus naloxone administration as well as a quarterly report.
Allison: So we have two main goals, two policies.
One, to help erase the stigma of those who are in recovery and highlight resources available for those who may be valid battling addiction.
And then the last one, the shortest one I think is the most simple whenever someone asks Medics to describe the policy.
It is to not have the misuse or abuse of opioids derail the future of any of Louisiana's college students.
Rich: Wow, so I can appreciate why that is such a reason to celebrate a success.
So you mentioned four different government agencies coming together to work on this and certainly I have had that experience.
That is not easy, you know getting worked up.
I mean, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people criticizing the government saying -- even when I worked in the state you all need to work together.
Rich: First of all, I think you have to reset your perception that we are not.
We collaborate a lot more than people think that we do but it is hard.
I mean and I think that that is no different than some of the collaboration that is happening at the local level that campuses try to do with the community, right?
I mean, I think we model that in some respect.
Allison: Yes, and so for us, that kind of what their process look like is initial encounter started out our office work with our poor public management systems and our representative from the private colleges.
So our public colleges are mandated through our policy, but the private colleges can opt in and a lot of them have chosen to and so it started with us in the fourth public management systems and the private liaison, we all work together to craft a policy what that would look like and then the office of the health provided all of the funding to purchase the kits and then our local governing entities which are regional behavior health officers.
They serve as pickup points for our campuses in those areas to pick up their kits.
And if they need additional, they need in person training, we have staff at the regional, the local governing entities that can go in and facilitate trainings for those campuses as well.
And so one, it is a partnership where everybody is working to assist in the main goal and I think I have heard you said a couple times is that one, it is something I actually believe in is that you need to seek to serve.
How do you help other people if you are going to have a partnership there has to be something in it for everyone.
It cannot just always be about what do you get out of this?
Rich: So also I heard you say is we know from successful collaboration it sounds like everybody had a role and everybody knew what their role was.
Rich: So I move on to our third question and this is so timely and you and I have talked a little bit since the last week.
You work in a part of the country that is regularly affected by hurricanes.
And this past year was no exception.
In fact, when we are taping this on September 3rd, hurricane Laura hit the Gulf Coast last week.
So first of all, I need to ask, how are you doing?
And how have the schools faired in the state?
Allison: Well, thank you for asking and I am pretty sure that I can speak for the entire state of Louisiana.
So we appreciate you for asking.
A couple of our schools in a lot of the communities in South West and Central Louisiana have been severely impacted by the hurricane Laura.
It has been really inspiring to see some of our unimpacted campus community school together and donate resources to those in need and I am sure that will be a continued ongoing effort for some time.
There is a lot of just devastation there.
I do not think that we have seen what may or may not be the impact of this natural disaster on substance use there.
Right now lots of people are still in shock and just trying to still get their bearings.
So for those of us who we see and it is not just the Gulf Coast, I certainly talked to Katherine Westner.
They got hit last year, it was hurricane Florence, I believe.
In North Carolina, Wilmington schools and towns that have been hit by tornadoes and such.
Those of us we see it on the news, but I do not think that that truly can do justice to what the impact actually has at the ground level in person and actually seeing the true impact of something like that.
Allison: Yeah, it is.
It is a sight to behold and a lot of the pictures do not do it justice.
I have a lot of friends there who are there working on some recovery efforts in just the pictures that they have seen that one just trying to one and what has been really interesting is that because particularly in Lake Charles, those campuses there.
We have two campuses there that were affected.
So well, Technical Community College and McNeese State University.
Those campuses are really big community hubs there.
Allison: And so one being able to get those back up and running and be able to let them get back to some of their duties of providing community resources and space for community things that go on there has been phenomenal to watch the other campus communities rally around those campuses.
Rich: Well, my follow up on this question is that we know that substance use rates can and do increase after a traumatic event such as they know hurricane Laura and even during stressful times and you know COVID certainly fits that bill and we have heard the stories of alcohol and other drug use rates going up during this stressful time.
Do you get that sense?
This is not new certainly as I mentioned you are in an area of the country where you know, it seems like almost every year when it is storm season.
We hear about tropical depressions and tropical storms that evolve into hurricanes that head for the Gulf Coast.
So it is not new to the region of the country.
But you get the sense among the state's campuses around this issue about substance use connected to these types of events.
And what are some of the strategies that they use to address it.
Allison: I was hoping by this point we would be able to see for our campus is kind of what they have seen but one I do not think we have been able to see it and so for us, the disruption of the hurricane, whatever was going to be a sort of new pattern that we were seeing in this was even upended by the hurricane, right?
So one, a lot of our state shut down in advance of the hurricane and Louisiana like I said, we are familiar with hurricanes and so there is a very common concept called hurricane parties.
Allison: And so we will gather and it just kind of hang out, cook specially if someone loses power they will cook all the food in their freezers and things like that so that it does not spoil anything but the gathering which was also a concern doing COVID.
So I feel we were just really concerned about what COVID would look like on the fall semester and I do not think we have grasped it yet.
I do not think we have begun to tap the surface of going on one of the things I know me and some of the other statewide coalition leaders hate is that when students were abruptly sitting home during the spring semester.
A lot of them take tapered their usage when we were worried about when they got back to campus and they had been home for a couple of months will most likely decrease the usage when they got back around a group of their peers.
What would their uses look like?
Allison: And so I know just one being concerned about if there are spikes and things like that tolerance levels, but I do not think we will fully see the impact yet until at least September 26 when SEC football is set to begin.
A lot of conferences are not playing so we know a lot of our HBSCU, our HBCU, our SWAT conference here.
They are not playing until the spring semester, but the SEC is set to begin football on September 26.
Rich: Okay, and there has been a lot of talk about that.
Allison: Yes it did.
That is set to begin, that may change, but they are set to begin and we know the conversation around what does tailgating look like and how will that impact our student experience, their uses rates, but in anticipation of any spikes and usage, our strong partnership with the Office of Behavioral Health has allowed us to where we are currently working on and requiring to screen you which is from the higher education center for alcohol and drug misuse prevention and recovery at the Ohio State University and it will allow our campuses to assign a web-based expert to screen not only for prescription drug misuse but also for alcohol and marijuana use disorder.
Allison: This will help us quickly identify students' needs and sets in there if necessary depending on the capacity of the campus we can get them referred out to some of our amazing local government entities and other community partners, and so we are working on building an infrastructure in case we do start to see an influx.
I mentioned earlier we know we have a short of Mental Health Counselors on our campus that we can start to or on councils on our campus and we can start to get students screen and refer it out quickly or those students brought into if they need physical appointments.
Is that a virtual point, things of that sort.
Rich: Well, I have had this conversation with our peers on other podcast episodes and just to know their meetings and such that I guess from a research perspective, if you are a researcher, and you are doing data, I can imagine the size of the asterisk that goes next to 2020.
I mean, it just is such a [inaudible] year that it is going to be really difficult to figure out the data fits in, right?
I think I mentioned that the SEC is set to play football this fall but we have another conference and I believe we may have a second one that is set to plan in the spring.
We do the court alcohol and drug survey in the spring of every odd here.
And that data will definitely have an asterisk next to it.
When we do a lot of our fall activities there and then another again the impact of COVID that we are looking at doing some completely online because we have been campuses that did still do paper and pencil but we do not even know if our systems will allow their campuses to have paper-pencil surveys in the classrooms in the spring.
So just one basic between, yeah, it will definitely have a huge asterisk in the next 2021 dataset that will come with a lot of explanations.
Rich: So I am going to move on to our fourth question and throughout my career, I have worked twenty-nine years or so in the prevention field and I often hear that certain types of schools and student populations are underrepresented, underserved.
We certainly know that in terms of available data and evidence-based programs.
And certainly HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, Hispanic-serving, tribal colleges, Asian-American Pacific Islander, you know, they certainly fit within that rubric of being underrepresented, underserved.
So in your work there in Louisiana and work you even have made it done across the country with other schools, are there any HBCUs or other minority-serving institutions that you would like to highlight that it has done a really good job in transforming maybe what is traditional prevention or recovery services and made them work for their unique campus population?
Allison: I think there are two amazing programs at HBCUs to highlight and I think they are the collegiate recovery programs at North Carolina A&T and Virginia Union University.
Dr. Vivian Barnett and Dr. CJ Clemens at in CAD, which is our Carolina A&T and Dr. Shanita Brown in Virginia Union University have all done an amazing job taking evidence-based and evidence-informed practices and adapting them to culturally relevant programs for their unique student populations such as basics and K6 or even running smart recovery meetings on their Instagram live, which I think is a phenomenal idea and Doctor CJ made a really great point during her joint presentation at ARHE, the Association of Recovery in Higher Education that you completed with
Dr. Shanita Brown and she said cultural relevance is happening if what you do and how you do it is relevant to the population that you serve.
Allison: And I think as a field who will have to explore the idea of who gets to decide what is evidence-based or evidence-informed and making sure that our program reflects the culture and diversity of our student bodies and I think one really critical aspect of North Carolina A&T program is that they found ways to involve their band.
In HBCU culture the band is huge.
A lot of SEC schools you see the football team is huge.
It is the opposite and in HBCU cultures the band is huge.
That is a huge feast.
Allison: My only point of disagreement with them is that their band is not better than the Southern University marching just human jukebox, that is my running joke with them -- the human jukebox of the Southern University with my alma mater, but they found ways to integrate things such as R&B relaxation or trap yoga or things of that sort, places where they can get students into a space where they are able to give them the same programming just under a different setting or settings that make the students feel more comfortable and they talk a lot about engaging the whole family when in the recovery process for students that it is not just the students recognizing the strong affiliation with families.
Getting families to buy into the program to help make the student have a better overall chance of success.
Rich: So, you know when we released the strategic planning guide back in January, and I know you are a strong proponent of the strategic prevention framework and we continue to talk about one of the underlying foundations of the spiff is cultural competence and when we were preparing the guide and it was in review, I do not know if it is a new concept that was new for college admission, not university because I do think some colleges, universities were aware of the concept of cultural humility, which is something I actually had to learn a little bit more about it.
It actually came from one of our interns and talking about this issue, you need to address cultural humility maybe before you can even get to being culturally competent.
This idea of regularly checking in with inherent or implicit biases that we possess and sometimes I think, do not even realize we possess.
Is that something that you recognize others is helpful to campuses and the issue of cultural competence?
Allison: Absolutely and actually I believe it was Dr. CJ Clemens at in CAD who mentioned it in one of her presentations that I have seen is that one and
Dr. Vivian Barnett has mentioned in that understanding that even though your students may come from a different world from you, understanding what that means and being willing to learn for them.
And Dr. Vivian Burnett talked a lot about when you see students that are understanding the role, I think she got a really good point, understanding the role that faith plays in a lot of students and HBCUs minority-serving institutions plays in her life.
No matter what the faith is, understanding the cultural relevance, the importance, and the impact of that and being able to understand, listens, kind of walk in their shoes a little bit and understand why it plays such a big part in their journey.
You know, I am glad you mentioned that because certainly even if you look at the risk and protective factors model for prevention, certainly, even when I worked for Fran and in New York and such when we were looking at identifying those types of factors, we would talk about the issue of faith and per campuses that are primarily southern, right?
I mean, I am coming from New York State and learning the fact that religiosity and spiritual connection is such a strong protective factor with it in the HPC community.
I am glad that you brought that up because that is something that is a strong connection to prevention efforts.
That is something that we saw with we see with our HBCUs that participate in our survey here and so our campuses, they can participate with our coalition without -- it is completely funded by us.
There is nothing they pay for, we paid for the court alcohol drug survey if they want to complete it, but it is not mandatory to receive any services from our coalition that they participate in the survey.
One of the things we see with our HBCUs that drinking rates tend to be lower than predominant institutions.
We see that and then also one, that they tend to have a pretty consistent or increased marijuana consumption rate.
But also looking at the cultural impact of cultural relevance, do we have students who identify as Rastafarian things like that?
What type of cultural impacts do those bring to students' substance issues?
Allison: So when just kind of considering those things and again, like I say reminding them that yes, it is federally illegal.
It falls under the legal schedule.
It is still illegal federally.
Well as we start to wrap up here and I move on to our fifth question, which is pretty much the same question.
I would like to ask all of our guests as we start to wrap up and that is to ask you what would you say to encourage the professionals, your colleagues who are working to prevent drug misuse among college students as well as the students themselves because we know that they are also listening to this podcast?
Allison: I have six quick little things.
I will leave you with the first one is, many hands make a light load.
I truly believe this, there is no way that I am better alone.
The second is this is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.
So pace yourself, especially in a global pandemic.
You deserve the grace you give your students and your peers.
The third one, this work is hard but not impossible and what you do does make a difference.
The fourth would be, embrace the partnerships you have and cultivate the ones you need for future collaborations.
The fifth, be sure to impart to the next generation of prevention professionals.
You have a lot to offer.
And the last one, the sixth one would be celebrating your wins.
I am sure you worked hard for them.
Rich: I love what you and you know, I talk in town, but it is sometimes.
Just giving us six, I just absolutely love that.
You know Allison, this interview has been all that I had hoped for, and more and everything that you bring to our field, brings to this conversation, the experiences that you have had as I said both as a student.
I mean, I cannot believe I was looking at again the timeline.
Your internship at CSAP was ten years ago this summer.
I mean, I was like, "Really?
Ten years ago?
" That is just amazing.
How time really does fly, but you know again, it has been excellent to have you join us today.
I really appreciate it.
Allison: Thank you so much for having me.
It has been an amazing experience.
Rich: Well, and I know that we will be continuing our collaboration and partnership in the years to come in this work which as you have said, if it is hard work, it is not impossible and sometimes the highs are really high and the lows are really low, but you know, the winds are really worth celebrating and I think that is an awesome note to end the song.
So again Allison, thank you very much and to our listeners, I appreciate you and the work that you continue to do to make our campuses safe and healthy.
And with that, I am going to say thanks for listening and have a great day.