TRENTON – Senators Richard J. Codey (D – Essex, Morris) and Shirley K. Turner (D – Mercer, Hunterdon) today called on Governor Christie to nominate members to the state’s Task Force on Underage Drinking in Higher Education. Since its creation in January, 2010, the task force has yet to have a single member appointed to it.
“Every year we hear more stories about underage drinking that end in tragedy. We have lost students from NJIT, Rider, TCNJ, Rutgers, and now it appears that alcohol may have played a role most recently with a Montclair resident. This has to end. It is time to do something. These kinds of stories are what led us to pass legislation creating the task force in the first place. Unfortunately, whether it is because of oversight or some other reason, no members have been appointed. I ask Governor Christie to rectify this as soon as possible,” said Codey.
“Parents should be able to send their children off to college knowing they will receive the proper counseling on underage drinking and that they will be looked out for on campus,” said Turner. “When we held hearings on this issue over three years ago, we heard statement after statement from college officials saying we had to do something to curb underage drinking. We heard their concerns and acted on them, but we need to get this task force up and running for anything to happen.”
Senators Codey and Turner were the prime sponsors of the legislation which created the task force in order to study and develop recommendations to combat underage drinking at the state’s higher education institutions. Membership on the task force was to include representatives from the state Commission on Higher Education and divisions of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Highway Traffic Safety and Addiction Services, as well as public members to include college administrators, faculty, law enforcement and students, and liquor store or bar owners, among others. The task force was supposed to release its findings within six months of its formation.
“The task force will be able to identify best practices in terms of both dealing with underage drinking and with trying to prevent it. This is not a partisan issue. Governor Christie will have our full and complete support in terms of searching out appointees to the Task Force. We have to work together on this because we are talking about the lives of our kids here. Each day we fail to act is a day we will never get back,” added Codey.
“Colleges throughout our state do their best to combat underage drinking. But they all have different policies. Some work better than others, while some may not be working at all. The task force can do the necessary work to figure out what is the best course of action on this problem,” said Turner.