Grant Funds Efforts to Reduce Substance Abuse

SUNY New Paltz has taken the next step in a statewide initiative to reduce drug and alcohol abuse among college students.

As a direct result of funds provided by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the college has appointed Jaclyn Cirillo as the campus’s Prevention Coordinator.

Cirello’s appointment takes place after Gov. Andrew Cuomo awarded $2.6 million to prevent drug and alcohol abuse on 20 SUNY and CUNY campuses for a period of five years beginning July 1, 2017. Gov. Cuomo’s announcement came a few months prior.

OASAS, issuing a request for applications in November 2016, selected institutions in over 17 counties statewide, awarding each $125,000 annually for a sum total of $625,000 over the first period.

The following are the recipients of the grant: University of Buffalo, State University of New York at Buffalo State, State University of New York at New Paltz, Stony Brook University, State University of New York at Albany, Purchase College SUNY, College of Staten Island, College at Brockport, Tompkins Cortland Community College, State University of New York College at Cortland, Herkimer College, Binghamton University, Onondaga Community College, Suffolk Community College, Farmingdale State College, John Jay College, Baruch College, The City College of New York, Lehman College, State University of New York at Geneseo.

Cuomo’s initiative intends to redirect students toward a well prioritized education.

“College is a formative time in young people’s lives and it is critical that we provide our students with the necessary tools to avoid making bad decisions with potentially life-altering consequences,” Cuomo said in a May 1 press release. “Through campaigns aimed at combatting drug use and underage drinking, we can help set students on the right path by creating a campus environment that fosters education, awareness and growth for all.”

The money awarded to New Paltz has been designated in creating the college’s first ever prevention coordinator, as well as new training for faculty and staff, an awareness campaign, the purchase and implementation of national survey instruments and joint operations between College and Town officials.

Prior to Cirello’s appointment, New Paltz’s Division of Student Affairs has sought out various ways to combat drug and alcohol abuse, namely the Tavern Owner’s Agreement. Established in 1999, the agreement encourages responsible and lawful alcohol consumption and appropriate civic customer behavior.

Acquiring a Master’s degree in mental health counseling from Montclair State University and five years of clinical experience at an outpatient rehabilitation center, Cirillo believes that any program developed at New Paltz cannot be “one-size-fits-all.”

“It’s not just a one-person or one-organization effort; I believe in the entire community coming together to help fight these issues,” she said to the college. “I’ve often found that everyone’s pretty much already working toward the same goals, so collaborating and sharing strategies just makes it that much more powerful.”

The activities funded by the grant will include a student survey. Once the results are available, Cirello will lead a campus wide initiative paired with the community to develop a multitude of preventative strategies.

Students, faculty and staff interested in future projects should contact Cirello at