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Rite of Passage Initiative Comes to Keene State

August 9, 2010

Keene, N.H. 08/09/2010 - A diverse group of Keene State College administrators, faculty and staff have co-created the Keene State College Rite of Passage Initiative to affirm the college experience as a place of passage into healthy adulthood.

Through the support of a strategic prevention grant from Monadnock Voices for Prevention, comprehensive strategies will be developed and deployed to guide students’ natural impulses to invent rite of passage experiences to test and affirm their transition from adolescence to adulthood. The focus is to guide those impulses towards safe, productive activities.

This campus-wide effort will convene conversations, trainings and presentations for first year students and their families, student leaders, administrators, staff, and faculty.

There is compelling evidence that rites of passage play an essential role in the personal and social development of individuals and their communities. This year, beginning with 2010 Orientation for first-year students, Keene State will provide educational opportunities for the college community to understand, conceptually and experientially, what might be possible.

The major goal of this effort is to develop an infrastructure that can address the particular challenges of the transition for beginning students at KSC. It will broaden peer education and student leader involvement, and engage the community in mentoring academic and student affairs experiences that offer alternatives to messages that encourage drinking as a perceived passage to adulthood. The long-term goal of this initiative is to create a path toward a cultural shift from binge drinking by paving the way for healthier student choices.

Unlike other major transitions, cultural rituals in America do not effectively assist the transition to adulthood. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that first year students who live on campus are at higher risk for misusing alcohol than their non-college attending peers. NIAAA suggests that the first 6 weeks of college are especially important, because that is when students often initiate heavy use of alcohol as part of their transition into college. Particularly in the first year, college students often believe that alcohol helps them navigate the path from their adolescent selves to their adult selves. Thus, students tend to initiate each other into what they believe it means to be an adult, while the adult community can be unclear about how to support and mentor them.

The KSC Rite of Passage Initiative is based upon youth and community development through a Rite of Passage Experience© (ROPE®) developed by David Blumenkrantz, Ph.D., and the Center for the Advancement of Youth, Family and Community Services, Inc., Keene State’s consultants for this initiative.

To learn more about the KSC Rite of Passage Initiative, and "KSC Passage: It’s Our Choice," please contact Len Fleischer at lfleisch@keene.edu.