(Big Sandy, Mont.)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester will introduce legislation to make college campuses safer, prevent the spread of dangerous drugs, and connect students with substance abuse treatment.
Tester’s bill, the Healthier Students for Stronger Campuses Act, will create a new grant initiative that colleges and universities can use to implement a tailored plan to prevent and treat drug and alcohol abuse on campus.
“Montana students need a safe and healthy environment to reach their academic potential and be fully prepared to enter the workforce,” Tester said. “This bill gives our students a better shot at success by empowering colleges and universities to develop a plan of action to keep campuses safe and help those with substance abuse disorders get back on their feet.”
Tester’s bill is supported by the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.
“The Montana University System and campuses across the nation are vigorously working to provide students with the tools and education they need to confront substance abuse,” said Clay Christian, Montana’s Commissioner Higher Education. “This grant program would positively impact the lives of our students and would be a significant addition to the work our campuses are currently doing to educate and prevent substance abuse.”
The grant initiative created by Tester’s bill would be jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grants could be used to fund prevention efforts, recovery services, sober living dorms, and mental health counseling.
In order to receive a grant, colleges or universities must convene a task force made up of faculty, staff, local school districts, non-profits, medical professionals, and law enforcement officers to oversee the creation and implementation of grant activities.
Tester’s bill sets aside 25 percent of grant funding for colleges and universities in rural areas like Montana.
More than one-third of college students engage regularly in binge drinking and one in five students use illegal drugs according to a study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Tester recently introduced another bill to crack down on drug abuse across the state. The ANTI Drugs Act would increase funding for existing grant initiatives that have a proven track record of reducing drug-related crimes and keeping drugs out of Montana communities.