Tag Archives: partnerships

St. Cloud State Partners with the Community to Effectively Reduce High Risk Drinking

By Jennifer Sell Matzke

Thanks to a series of successful collaborative efforts to alter the culture when it comes to alcohol and drug use on the campus of St. Cloud State University and the surrounding community, dramatic, positive and measurable changes are occurring.

In 2005, results from a college student health assessment showed that 58% of St. Cloud State students reported engaging in high risk drinking (defined as 5 or more alcohol beverages in a single sitting) within the last two weeks — a rate significantly above the national average reported by college students across the country.  The negative consequences associated with this behavior were taking a toll not only on students but also on the campus and surrounding community.

In order to address this problem, SCSU implemented an environmental management approach to addressing high risk drinking and the related harmful consequences.  Now, just seven years later, the high risk drinking rate for SCSU has fallen to 34.1%, a rate on par with the national average.  This is a feat that is now bringing national attention to SCSU and the city of St. Cloud, primarily because of the partnerships that have evolved and developed to make this change possible.

results table

This change in culture can be attributed in large part to the numerous collaborative efforts put forth between members of St. Cloud State University, the Neighborhood University Community Coalition, the St. Cloud Police Department and St. Cloud city administrators.  In July 2010 the Social Host, Provisional Licensing for Liquor Establishments, and Disruptive Intoxication Ordinances were proposed as a collaborative effort by the various groups mentioned above to address concerns within the community.  These ordinances were ultimately adopted in the city of St. Cloud and the impact has been extremely positive.  For example, as a result of the Social Host Ordinance, the city has seen a drastic reduction in the number of loud parties and university neighbors report a significantly improved quality of life as a result.

In August of 2010, shortly after the new ordinances were passed, the city and university partnered together to introduce and implement the IMPACT Diversion Program. This joint program is designed to offer individuals who have been charged with an underage alcohol violation the opportunity to receive alcohol education and prevention services. The Diversion program has resulted in a reduction in underage consumption recidivism from 12% to 6.9%, in nearly 1900 cases in the past two years as well as a significant decrease in the number of alcohol related emergency room admissions.  Since Diversion is also an option for non-students, underage individuals have returned to St. Cloud to complete Diversion from as far away as Illinois, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Texas.

Beginning in fall 2012, SCSU has also partnered with St. Cloud Technical and Community College to provide IMPACT programming on their campus. The two colleges now share a graduate assistant who works to provide prevention programming to both campuses.  These combined efforts have drastically changed the environment in the city of St. Cloud and the culture around drinking on campus at both SCSU and SCTCC.

Through these efforts, the city of St. Cloud and area colleges have witnessed firsthand the impact of collaboration in affecting change, the importance of partnerships and data collection and the power of education to reduce alcohol use.  These efforts have been the catalyst for various other partnerships to address alcohol issues in the community. For example, the St. Cloud Community Alliance (SCCA) evolved out of these efforts and brings together city leaders, campus leaders, residents, students and businesses from throughout the city of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities.  The SCCA is a coalition with a simple mission:  to make St. Cloud a better place for everyone; with a primary focus to reduce high-risk drinking and the negative impacts on our community.

The collaborative relationships that were built and exist between these entities continue to thrive and provide numerous opportunities for partners to work together for the sake of creating an improved quality of life for all residents, students, visitors, faculty and staff within the city of St. Cloud.

Jennifer Sell Matzke is Interim Assistant Dean of Students for Chemical Health and Outreach Programming at St. Cloud State University.

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Jamie Notter is Right. Best Practices are Flawed.

By John Hamerlinck

I just read Get Me Jamie Notter’s, “Beapples and orangesst Practices are Flawed Because We Are Human”blog post. I wondered how many people in our field (one awash with “best practices” talk) might read this. Even if only a few more people do, it is worth passing along here.

I believe we are in the business of promoting creativity and innovation. When we set out to do this in the context of communities, we are automatically engaged in endeavors that happen in unique contexts. The reason people have so much trouble replicating the success of a “best practice” in campus-community partnerships is because it is impossible to replicate the personal relationships, history and culture of the place the “best practice” came from. We need to quit worrying so much about replication and start more conversations about how we might find the courage to create more collaborative, reciprocal partnerships.


Building Bridges: Campus Community Connections in St. Cloud

By Maria Ortiz

With help from a capacity building grant through Minnesota Campus Compact, St. Cloud State University (SCSU) and St. Cloud Independent School District (ISD) 742 developed, “Building Bridges: Campus Community Connections.” The goals of the project were: 1) to enhance and deepen the partnership and collaboration between SCSU and ISD 742 in the face of service learning budget reductions; and 2) to meet the mutual needs identified to enrich student learning among specific ISD 742 and SCSU classrooms and courses.

This project enabled SCSU to increase the infrastructure necessary to support community service-learning; providing opportunities for classroom theory to be practiced in a real-time setting and further institutionalizing service-learning and civic engagement SCSUas a core campus value. This collaborative work created service-learning experiences, fostered college aspirations among ISD 742 students, and met the educational needs and goals of both K-12 and university students. According to Beth Knutson-Kolodzne, SCSU Volunteer Connection Coordinator, even though the grant period is over, the projects it helped to create have continued to produce results.

The Building Bridges project focused on three activities; Reading Tutoring, Spanish Immersion, and English Language Leaner (ELL). The Reading Tutor Project involves SCSU Students in a Special Education class with students’ 4th-6th grade at Lincoln Elementary School in St. Cloud. Through this partnership, ISD 742 students improved their confidence and performance in the subject areas identified by the teachers and SCSU students are provided practical experience in the subject area of their specific course/major.  “The tutoring project still occurs with Lincoln Elementary school with the Special Ed. (SPED) 200 class at SCSU.  This also occurs among the teachers at Lincoln and the special education faculty at SCSU,” explained Knutson-Kolodzne.

The Spanish Immersion Project involves SCSU students in upper division Spanish courses working with students in grades K-1 at Clearview Elementary School in Clear Lake, MN. Through this partnership, language acquisition skills and proficiency are enhanced among all parties. The Spanish Immersion program with Clearview Elementary school is coordinated through the department of Foreign Languages’, Spanish teaching faculty and includes this as both curricular service-learning and co-curricular volunteering.

The English Language Learner (ELL) Project involves a collaboration to coordinate and facilitate a Career & Technical Education Academy for English Language Learners in grades 9-12. This partnership exposes ELL students to college and career options and provides them the opportunity to engage in exploring both. According to Knutson-Kolodzne, “We used to do this over the course of 4-5 days for 2 summers with ELL students in grades 9-12 in District 742.  Now, starting this semester (Spring 2010), we have created a Career & Technical Education (CTE) program focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) initiatives with students, faculty and staff at SCSU that have expertise or interested in those areas.  It is now an 8-week program, which takes place every Tuesday for approximately 3 hours after school.  We call it CTE-STEM for ELL.”

Examples of impact on students are evident through excerpts from SCSU students’ reflection journals from the Spanish Immersion project at Clearview Elementary School:

“This was a great experience for me because I learned that using my Spanish is easier than I thought. It has been great practice and has given me more confidence with my ability to speak.’

“I have learned the importance of taking the time to volunteer. I realize how much I really enjoy doing something for no pay. I think often times people are so concerned about what we can get for ourselves out of everything we do and most of the time people want money. It is nice to revert back to just doing something for the greater good. It feels nice to give.”

Support from the MNCC grant allowed both SCSU and ISD 742 to more fully appreciate the needs, capacities, and energy involved in creating positive, effective partnerships.  The many activities involved in the project allow partners to find better, more effective and efficient methods of working together.