Fairfield University Student Association to hold debate featuring Dr. John McCardell, founder of the Amethyst Initiative, and Mr. Jim Fell, former executive board member of MADD


Rev. von ArxThe Fairfield University Student Association will hold a debate on the legal drinking age on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m., featuring Dr. John McCardell, founder of the Amethyst Initiative, and Mr. Jim Fell, a former member of the Executive Board of MADD. The event will be held in the John A. Barone Campus Center, Lower Level, and will include a Q&A.

Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., president of Fairfield University, was one of 135 university presidents who signed the Amethyst Initiative two years ago, calling for a discussion of the present 21-year-old legal drinking age and how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.  

FUSA President Jeff Seiser was contacted last fall by the Choose Responsibility Campaign, also led by Dr. McCardell, to sign the Get Real Initiative for student government presidents. The result is the FUSA-sponsored debate Wednesday evening.  

McCardell holds advanced degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in history. He began his teaching career at Middlebury College, where he also served as dean for academic development and planning, dean of the faculty, provost, and vice president for academic affairs before being named president in 1992, where he served until 2004.

Recently he was elected President of Sewanee: The University of the South by the Board of Trustees. "John McCardell's record of achievement as a scholar, as the chief executive of one of America's finest liberal arts colleges, and as a respected national figure in the public discussion about higher education and student life extends the work of his predecessors and the pursuit of the vision of Sewanee's founders," said the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and chair of the Board of Trustees. "He is an inspirational leader who will strengthen Sewanee's historic commitment to excellence in the liberal arts and service to the Episcopal Church."

Mr. James C. Fell, MS, Human Factors Engineering, is the Senior Program Director of the Alcohol, Policy, and Safety Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Fell manages "projects evaluating the effectiveness of traffic safety enforcement programs, particularly highly visible, highly publicized and frequent sobriety checkpoints, in reducing impaired driving. He has completed a study of the drinking characteristics of drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), a project on increasing safety belt usage by teens, and the development of various resource documents on sanctions for drivers convicted of DWI.

Fell recently finished research on grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that assessed the status and enforcement of the various components of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age 21 (MLDA 21) laws in the States and determined the relationship of those laws to teenage traffic death."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 25, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 175