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Humboldt State University
Letter from Humboldt

April 2014

On April 17, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on the UC Quad for a remembrance of those lost in the I-5 bus accident. Later that day, hundreds more gathered for a candlelight vigil. More »

In this issue

Talking to your Student about Substance Abuse Want to Write a Guest Column? Welcome HSU’s Next President Own a Limited Edition Woodcut Featured Photo: Pie your Professor Founders Day - You're Invited! Show your Support Latest News from Campus Upcoming Events

Guest Column: Talking to your Student about Substance Abuse


Jeannette Longtin, HSU Parent

Jeannette Longtin is the mom of HSU sophomore Stacey Longtin-Horton and senior director of the Healthy Novato Project.

As a mom, I have been deeply affected by the frequent stories of young adults in college whose lives have ended unnecessarily with a mistake of poor judgment. Most of us know of at least one family in our communities whose lives have changed forever from such a loss. Though I’ve been talking with my boys since they were in middle school about the dangers and health risks associated with adolescent (age 12 – 25) alcohol use, I am nonetheless a mom and sometimes worry about their safety and well-being. April is National Alcohol Awareness Month—an opportunity to inform ourselves about what is happening on and around college campuses and likely within our children’s circle of friends and acquaintances. It is also an opportunity to ponder the question, “When was the last time you talked with your child about substance use?”

During my son’s freshman year at HSU, he called 911 three times on behalf of friends who were in danger of losing their lives from excessive alcohol use. Thankfully, he thought to do something about it and not “just let them sleep it off.” I can’t help but think that the many conversations we had about “peer regard”—caring about and for one’s peers—was a voice in his head that helped him do the right thing and essentially save lives. The risks of alcohol poisoning: life threatening dehydration, aspirating vomit, having a fall injury, walking out into traffic, driving while intoxicated, sexual assault, memory loss, car crashes, blackouts and effects on brain development are real, especially when binge drinking, as college students often do.

The Centers for Disease Control and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) define binge drinking as 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females within a 2-hour period. This does not take into account body weight, genetics, existing medical conditions and family pre-disposition to dependency. Alcohol acts as a stimulant on the adolescent brain, increasing the propensity to engage in risk-taking behaviors. In addition to binge drinking, college students frequently:

  • Mix alcohol with prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Ritalin, and Adderall
  • Mix alcohol with “recreational drugs” such as Molly/Ecstasy
  • Mix prescription Codeine cough syrup with soda and Skittles, to create drank, purple drank or sizzurp—a lethal cocktail alone and even more so when mixed with alcohol.
  • Use drugs such as marijuana along with alcohol.
  • Use beer bongs and chug liquor where quantity goes unnoticed.

So what can you do with this information?

  1. Use this guest column as a springboard to learn more.
  2. Start conversations with your child about substance use.
    • Use a conversational tone and don’t preach. Tell them what you learned.
    • Don’t be judgmental. Be interested and inquisitive while gaining insight into their thinking on the subject.
    • FaceTime or Skype when you are having such conversations. It’s a chance to see their beautiful face and have eye contact when talking about such an important topic.
    • Don’t feel like you need to get it all out in one conversation. This is a “many conversations” topic and one that your child may be resistant to the first time around.
    • Be brave. Your love for your child is all the permission you need to bring up subjects that are important to you.
    • Inquire, “Are kids doing these things at parties you go to?” Follow up by stating your loving concerns and your hopes for their safety, health and well-being.
  3. Monitor parties when your student comes home on break.
    • Many communities have Social Host ordinances which can involve arrest and hefty fines for both the homeowner and student (18 and over) who supplies alcohol to underage drinkers. Learn about the laws and ordinances in your community.
  4. Instruct your child to call 911 or their RA if there is ever a concern about a friend. It is better to be safe than sorry.

When our children go off to college, they are in many ways on their own. However, our continued involvement is the foundation and safety net that can help them have a safe college experience.

Want to Write a Guest Column?

Are you the parent or family member of a current HSU student? Interested in sharing tips and advice with other HSU parents online? We’re interested in reading what you have to say! Possible column ideas include: “5 Things You Wish You’d Known Before Sending Your Child to College” and “Ways To Support your Student While They're Away.” We want your perspective and ideas! Send your name, contact info and a few column ideas to

Welcome Humbold States New President

Latest News from HSU

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Outdoor Adventure Program Prepares Students for Careers in Recreation

Own a Limited Edition Woodcut of Founders Hall

For a limited time, the Humboldt State Alumni Office is selling woodcut prints of Founders Hall. This limited edition, handmade print was designed by Art Professor Sarah Whorf to commemorate HSU’s 2013-14 Centennial Celebration. Proceeds support the Humboldt Loyalty Fund, which benefits projects that support the student experience.

Purchase yours while they last at


Founders Day - You're Invited!

Human 100

HSU is hosting a party to cap off our 2013-14 Centennial year and you’re invited! Join us on Friday, April 25 for a full day of activities including a time capsule burial, campus research showcase and Dance of Century, with a chance to dress in costume from your favorite decade. Don’t miss this free, once in a lifetime event! More »

Show Your Support

Our Humboldt Family has come together in recent days to remember all those affected by the I-5 charter bus accident. From sharing your thoughts online to making a donation to a memorial scholarship, there are many ways to show support. For more, including images from the remembrance event and vigil, visit

Featured Photo

Students participate in "Pie your Professor" in honor of Pi Day on 3/14.

» For more HSU photos, visit Flickr

Upcoming Events

April 24
McCrone Awards Banquet
April 24
Art Graduates Exhibition Awards
April 24
Playhouse Creatures
April 22
Chasing Ice Film
April 25
Founders Day
April 30
Centennial Speaker Series: James Balog- Chasing Ice Live!

» More events on the HSU Events Calendar

» Important campus phone numbers
» Send us your ideas and comments on the newsletter.

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