VC Deb Coffin invites you to take the Live Free Challenge

Published: Sept. 11, 2013

I am writing to encourage you to accept an important challenge and inspire your students to do the same. For the fifth year, Counseling and Psychological Services and Oasis (a network of students committed to sobriety) have issued a challenge to the university called the Live Free Weekend. From noon Sept. 19 to noon Sept. 23, all those connected to the university have been challenged to forego alcohol, marijuana, or recreational drug use for 96 hours. Alternatively, if abstinence is not a desirable goal for you, you can participate by signing the binge-free agreement (electing not to binge drink and to abstain from recreational drug use). Of course, this agreement is consistent with university drug policy and state laws.

A well-intentioned challenge such as this has the potential to help us grow as a community. According to national studies, 31% of students fit the criteria for alcohol abuse. On our own campus, only 11.8% of those who use alcohol say they have not done so in the last 30 days. Sixteen percent of our students say they have never used alcohol. By taking and discussing this pledge, we all have an opportunity to support each other and encourage all of us to examine our own choices around drugs and alcohol, exhibit concrete leadership, and model responsible behavior. Individual reasons for taking the pledge in years past include: “to challenge myself to find other ways to have fun and to get more schoolwork done!” to “support a good cause, and get a reading on my own alcohol use” and “because I live a sober lifestyle and appreciate the support this event affords.” Groups and departments are also able to take the pledge together. In working toward this sort of solidarity, we can stimulate conversation about substance abuse and explore creative solutions to improving the wellbeing of our community.

Please take a moment to visit the Live Free website so you can take the pledge and learn more about this event. And please announce this challenge and the many events designed for students in your classes, lab, or department. The website is

Together, we can learn to make sound choices around alcohol, marijuana, and recreational drugs while promoting healthy, meaningful ways to connect. Thank you for helping create a positive impact on our students and university.

Deb Coffin
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs