Harvard Aims to Prevent Sexual Assault with Alcohol Education Program

By Seth Ferranti 12/08/16

Harvard's new director of drug and alcohol services is tasked with addressing the university's "troubling" sexual assault climate.

Students partying
Photo via YouTube

Harvard has hired a new director for its Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Services. With the party culture prevalent at universities today and students like Brock Turner using alcohol as an excuse for rape, Harvard’s new director, Garrett O. Fitzgerald, has said the role between alcohol and sexual assault at the university will be monitored closely. A recent survey reported that 16% of senior undergraduate females experienced sexual penetration or attempted penetration without their consent.

“I think [the survey] certainly informed and remained present in our conversations when we planned strategies for outreach,” Fitzgerald told The Crimson. “What the report has definitely done is lived in basically each of our meetings where we direct any of our resources going forward and also guided, sort of, what we prioritize.”

With alcohol abuse at universities nationwide becoming a conversation point, many students are now deciding to stay sober. By raising awareness and talking about it, colleges hope to stymie a growing national problem. Harvard’s alcohol education office was created to “oversee the University’s efforts to address alcohol and health issues among its students.” A big first step in the right direction, but correcting the problem won’t happen overnight.

“Trying to train the 400 student groups on campus is a daunting task when the people who would be expected to do that are also students and have class demands and things of that nature,” Fitzgerald said. “Otherwise, it’s two of us trying to reach 400 students in the first couple weeks of a semester.” But with a realistic alcohol education, Fitzgerald hopes students will take heed.

Partying is a rite of passage in college and has been since the beginning of higher education. Fitzgerald stresses that students have to host safe parties where drinking, hazing and sexual assault don't occur. Everyone knows that college kids are going to drink and experiment, but the current party culture seems to have eroded kids' values.

“You do have an obligation to those people coming to the event to make sure you’re creating an experience that can be safe for them, both from a substance related aspect, to even a physical safety, to an emotional safety,” Fitzgerald said. And with sexual assaults on the rise, Harvard is hoping to increase prevention efforts.

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.