Santa Clara University

Life at Santa Clara University

There are many experiences that your son or daughter will be going through during his/her time at Santa Clara University. While we hope that most of them are positive, your student will be placed in new situations that require him/her to make decisions about personal safety and well being. It is important that you are supportive of your student and have discussed with him/her how to use good judgment in difficult situations. If your son or daughter comes to you with a serious issue, realize that your student is asking for your help and guidance and needs your support. While we strive to maintain a safe and healthy environment at Santa Clara University, we realize that certain factors can create risky situations. Below are some topics that we encourage you to discuss with your student and some information for you as a parent.


For many parents and young adults, bringing up the subject of alcohol is not easy. You may be unsure of when or how to begin these conversations, and both you and your student may try to avoid the topic. However, it is important for you to be aware of the risks and consequences associated with alcohol so you can help your student be aware and make more responsible choices. Remember, it is never too late to learn more about alcohol and other drug use, or to begin having these conversations with your student.

Important Facts About Alcohol

Although many young adults believe they already know everything about alcohol, myths and misinformation abound. Here are some important facts to share with your student:

  • Alcohol is a powerful drug that slows down the body and mind. It impairs coordination; slows reaction time; and impairs vision, clear thinking, and judgment. High risk-taking behaviors can occur more readily when someone is intoxicated, including unwanted sexual behaviors, physical aggression, theft, vandalism, and accidents.
  • Beer and wine are not “safer” than hard liquor. A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on the body and mind.
  • On average, it takes 1 hour for a single drink to leave the body’s system. Nothing can speed up this process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”
  • People tend to have very poor judgment about the serious affect alcohol has on them. That means many individuals who drive after drinking think they can control a car—even though they may be too impaired to drive safely.
  • Anyone can develop a serious alcohol problem, including a teenager or young adult.

Drinking at Santa Clara University

It is important to note that Santa Clara University does not condone underage drinking. We are encouraged to learn that many SCU students are choosing not to drink or are making healthier choices regarding alcohol consumption, including monitoring how much they drink, making sure they have food in their stomachs, and using designated drivers. Please read the SCU Alcohol Policy and the Parental Notification Policy online at for more information.
 Here are some SCU statistics from our Spring 2004 National College Health Assessment survey (n=812 undergraduate students).

  • 17.3% of SCU students have never used alcohol (17.9% reference group)*
  • 59.9% of SCU students drink 4 or fewer drinks when they party (60.4%)
  • 72.8% of SCU students “usually” or “always” keep track of how many drinks they consume when partying (65.2%)
  • 82.8% of SCU students “usually” or “always” eat before and during drinking (76.7%)
  • 86.6% of SCU students “usually” or “always” use a designated driver (76.4%)

* Numbers in parentheses indicate the Spring 2004 National Reference group statistics. These statistics were compiled from 47,202 students on 74 college and University campuses across the country. **Source: National College Health Assessment Survey, Spring 2004

Early Weeks Are Critical

As the fall quarter begins, use this important time to help prepare your son or daughter by alerting him/her to the consequences of excessive drinking. Studies have shown that the first six weeks of the first quarter are high-risk times for excessive alcohol use, as students test their new ­freedoms, and drink to combat the anxiety of being away from home and as an attempt to fit in and feel more social.

What to Discuss if Your Student Chooses to Drink

We encourage you to find ways to talk to your student about the law, SCU’s alcohol policy, the risks associated with drinking, and how he/she can make more informed and responsible drinking choices. At SCU we believe that “responsible drinking” does not include underage drinking. However, it can be dangerous to assume that your student will not experiment or regularly consume alcohol during his/her college years. If your student chooses to drink, he/she can take steps to avoid high-risk behaviors associated with alcohol use. Here are some tips:

  • Set a limit before drinking and stick to it!
  • Space and pace drinks. A good rule is no more than one drink per hour!
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Eat before and while drinking.
  • Avoid drinking games.
  • Don’t drink to cover up anger, stress, or sadness. Alcohol can make negative feelings even more intense.
  • Bring enough money for a cab. Never drive or get into a car with someone who has been drinking.
  • Do not mix different kinds of alcohol (i.e., wine, beer, hard liquor).
  • Never place your drink out of sight, or take drinks from strangers, or open containers such as punch bowls.
  • Never go to parties alone or leave alone.
  • Recognize that while social drinking is fun, it is important to be cooperative and respectful of the rights of others.
  • Be aware that being intoxicated is dangerous and often leads to behavior that is offensive, destructive, degrading, and disrespectful to yourself and others.

Important Reasons for Students Not to Drink

  • Underage drinking is illegal. It is illegal in the state of California to purchase, be in the possession of, or to consume alcohol for those who are under 21 years of age. The Santa Clara Police Department will issue a citation to anyone who is in violation of this law and will notify SCU if the individual is a student at the University. The University will hold any student accountable for violating the Student Conduct Code if they are cited by the police on or off campus for an alcohol violation. Additionally, the University will sanction students who violate the University’s Alcoholic Beverage Policy or the Alcohol Policy Within the Residence Halls.
  • Your student is on medication. It is never possible to know what effect mixing alcohol with other drugs will have on a user. The factors that affect the action of drugs and alcohol include, but are not limited to, the user’s mood, body chemistry, other medications or illnesses, and psychological history.
  • You have a family history of alcoholism. If one or more members of your immediate or extended family has suffered from alcoholism, your student may be more vulnerable to developing a drinking problem. Your student needs to know that for him/her, drinking may carry special risks.
  • Drinking can be dangerous. One of the leading causes of young adult deaths is motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol. Drinking also makes a young person more vulnerable to sexual assault and unprotected sex. While your student may believe he/she wouldn’t engage in hazardous activities while drinking, point out that alcohol impairs judgment.

Important Facts about Drugs/Controlled Substances

  • Using prescription drugs without a doctor’s approval (non-medical use) could lead to serious health problems. Data from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows the second most common type of illegal drug use after marijuana is the non-medical use of prescription drugs.
  • “Pharming” is a new slang term for grabbing a handful of prescription drugs and swallowing some or all of them. Some students are taking pills from the family medicine cabinet and distributing them at school.
  • It’s estimated that about one-third of all U.S. drug abuse involves prescription drugs, and that 13.7 percent of youths between the ages of 12 and 17 have abused prescription drugs at least once in their lifetimes (Source: Monitoring the Future 2003).
  • Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. At least one-third of Americans have used marijuana sometime in their lives.
  • A study of college students has shown that skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired among people who use marijuana heavily, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours.
  • Chronic smokers of marijuana have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers including daily cough and phlegm, chronic bronchitis symptoms, frequent chest colds; chronic abuse can also lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissues.
  • Under a new law, students who have drug-related convictions may be ineligible for federal student aid.


Drug Use/Abuse at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University has a standard of conduct that prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and/or alcohol. The University will impose disciplinary sanctions on students ranging from educational and rehabilitation efforts up to and including expulsion and/or referral for prosecution for violations of the standards of conduct.

Alcohol & Other Drug Use Warning Signs to Watch For

Although you may not be able to monitor your son or daughter closely, you can be proactive in ensuring your student’s health and safety by being aware of some of the following signs:

  • Depressed or anxious mood—might be drinking or using other drugs to calm nerves, forget worries, or to boost a sad mood
  • Social withdrawal
  • Personality changes noted by self and ­others
  • Unduly abrasive or aggressive behavior
  • Missing/cutting classes and appointments, missing/failing tests, grades dropping
  • Legal trouble (i.e., Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Minor in Possession (MIP))
  • Increased spending money on substance of choice
  • Getting into risky/dangerous behaviors (i.e., fights, risky or unwanted sexual experiences, driving, passing out)
  • Other people express concern about use/behavior
  • Lying about or hiding drinking/drugging habits
  • Increased frequency of use

  If you become aware that your student is engaging in any of these behaviors, on-campus support and help is available. Please encourage your student to contact the Counseling Center (408-554-4172) or Wellness Center (408-554-4409) to talk to a professional and explore various resources and options.

How to Talk with Your Son or Daughter about Alcohol and Other Drug Use

With a challenging topic such as alcohol and other drug use, it is important to learn new ways to communicate with your student. Talk with your son or daughter at a time and place that encourages an easy give-and-take of ideas. Make sure your student understands your view of him/her as a young adult. Try to be a good listener, ask questions, and try not to react in a way that will shut down the conversation. If your student says things that challenge you, try not to react harshly, and explain that you want to prepare him/her for a good college experience. Here are some tips:

  • Listen. You won’t get far by lecturing. Ask your student to talk about alcohol and other drugs. Find out what concerns he/she has.
  • Make every conversation a “win-win” experience. Don’t lecture or find ways to show your student that he/she is wrong.
  • Encourage conversation. Encourage your student to talk about whatever interests him/her. Listen without interruption and give your student a chance to teach you something new. Your active listening to your student’s enthusiasms paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
  • Control your emotions. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
  • Make your expectations clear. College is a significant investment of time and money. Set clear expectations, encouraging your student to make the most of the academic and personal growth opportunities that are available at the University. Remind your student that engaging in illegal activities or violating the Student Conduct Code will put his/her status at the University in jeopardy.
  • Share the facts about alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol and other drugs are toxic. Far too many students die every year from alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses. Discourage dangerous drinking, and encourage your son or daughter to have the courage to intervene when someone else is engaging in dangerous drinking or drug habits. Also, remember that students grossly overestimate the use of alcohol and other drugs by their peers. Young adults are highly influenced by peers and tend to drink in amounts they perceive to be the norm. You can play a vital role in providing accurate information. At SCU, typically more than a third of incoming freshmen report they abstain from alcohol use. Not everyone drinks!
  • Help them take a stand. Every student has the right to a safe learning and living environment. Discuss ways to handle situations ranging from interrupted study time to assault or unwanted sexual advances. Help your son or daughter think about whether to approach the offender directly or whether to notify residence hall staff or other University or law enforcement officials.
  • Alcohol-free events. SCU offers many alcohol-free events for students. Encourage your students to watch for e-mail postings and campus posters announcing fun events put on by various student clubs, the Residential Learning Communities, athletics, and “The Bronco” (late night campus entertainment and food venue).
  • Teach healthy coping skills. Teach your student to manage stress and difficult feelings (i.e., sadness, anxiety, loneliness) in healthy ways, such as by seeking help from an adult or professional on campus or engaging in a favorite healthy activity.
  • Encourage community service. Students who volunteer are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs. Point out the benefits of volunteer work—forming friendships, developing job-related skills, and the satisfaction of helping others.
  • Be a good role model. Evaluate your own use of alcohol, tobacco, prescription medicines, and even over-the-counter drugs. Consider how your attitudes and actions may be shaping your son or daughter’s choice about whether or not to use alcohol or other drugs. Be cautious when you tell tales of your college years—your son ordaughter may interpret stories of drinking during college as an indication that you approve of dangerous alcohol consumption.
  • Show respect. If you show respect for your student’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.

Eating Disorders

Many students must deal with the serious problem of eating disorders. SCU recognizes the prevalence of eating disorders, eating-related problems, exercise obsession, and body-image concerns in students. The University is committed to educating the whole person and recognizes the interrelationship of the student’s mind, body, character, and spirit. Eating disorders negatively affect student learning in numerous ways including depleting students’ energy, distracting their attention, diminishing their intellectual resources, causing depression and social withdrawal, and adversely affecting the morale of students around them. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and know that help is available at SCU.
  Young men and women can display a variety of disordered eating and unsafe weight control methods such as:

  • Food Restriction/Starvation
  • Diuretics
  • Laxatives
  • Self-induced Vomiting
  • Diet Pills
  • Serious Over-Exercising

  While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are most often about much more than food. Eating disorders are complex medical and psychological conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. They are not just a fad, a phase, or due to a weakness or lack of willpower. Eating disorders are similar to alcohol and other drug addictions, and individuals struggling with them can use food and the control of food in an attempt to “numb out” and compensate for feelings and emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming. For some, dieting, binging, and purging may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and to feel in control of one’s life, but ultimately, these behaviors will damage a person’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem, and sense of competence and control.
  Eating disorders are much easier to prevent than to cure, and parents are in the best position to do that work. Keep in mind at all times that what you do is a much more powerful message than what you say.

What to Do if Your Son or Daughter Shows Signs of an Eating Disorder

  1. Avoid denial. Get him/her a thorough evaluation and treatment if it is indicated. The sooner treatment begins the sooner recovery can be achieved. Remember too that first symptoms are much easier to reverse than behaviors that have become entrenched. SCU has many resources for students dealing with eating disorders, including the Counseling Center (408-554-4172) and Cowell Health Center (408-554-4501). Call to seek consultation and speak with a professional if needed. Students with severe eating disorders may be referred to private providers or treatment facilities. Cowell Health Center and the Counseling Center do not have the expertise or the specialized, comprehensive resources and extended time to treat these conditions.
  2. Give your family and friends the gift of a healthy role model. Become comfortable with your own body and enjoy it, no matter what your size and shape is. Don’t criticize your appearance, as this can teach others to be overly concerned and critical of their own bodies. Know that three of the most powerful risk factors for the development of an eating disorder are: a mother who diets, a sister who diets, and friends who diet. Demonstrate how a competent person takes charge, solves problems, negotiates relationships, and builds a satisfying life without resorting to self-destructive behaviors.
  3. Don’t allow anyone in the family to tease others about appearance. Even so-called playful teasing can produce powerful negative consequences.
  4. Emphasize the importance of fit and healthy bodies, not thin bodies. The goals should be health and fitness, not thinness. They don’t always go together.
  5. Praise students for who they are, their personal qualities, and what they do—not how they look. A son or daughter who feels unattractive but is told that she/he is good looking will feel only anxiety, not improved self-esteem, and you will lose credibility in her/his eyes.
  6. Encourage healthy eating, not dieting. There is a difference. In the first place, diets don’t work. They also send a dangerous and unrealistic message to students about quick-fix solutions. Rather than diet, stick to a healthy routine of nutritious eating and fitness-promoting exercise.
  7. Never engage in power struggles over food. You will lose. Don’t play food police either. These behaviors can cause your student to withdraw and can add to the shame and self-blame they already feel.
  8. Eat together as a couple or a family at least once a day. As much as possible, keep mealtimes social, happy, and fun. Talk about things other than food, calories, and weight. Even if your student will not eat with you, or even if she/he eats only a few things, insist that she/he be present to share in family life while at home.
  9. Support yourself! Having a student with an eating disorder can be extremely distressing and scary. Make sure that you don’t let it control or consume your life as well as your student’s. Schedule in time for yourself. Participate in satisfying activities that bring you pleasure. Also, use family or couples counseling to find relief and support. The person with the eating disorder is not the only one who hurts.


Sexual Intimacy at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is a Jesuit, Catholic institution and aims to educate students in the Catholic tradition. This section explores Catholic values and beliefs about sexual intimacy. In it, there are some universal messages for students of all faith traditions. It is important to know that parents can play a crucial role in helping young people to utilize their own values, aspirations, and expectations in deciding the appropriate time in life for initiating sexual intercourse. By developing open, honest, and ongoing communication about responsibility, sex, and choice, parents can help their students learn about sex and intimacy in a healthy and positive manner.

Some Tips for Parents

  • Be clear about your values.
    Before you speak with your student about sexuality, think about what your values are. What do you believe? What does your faith tradition say? It is important to give your student factual information—and discuss different perspectives including moral, spiritual, and emotional values. Sexual intercourse can connect two people in a profound way. It can involve us with another at the deepest levels—emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. The Roman Catholic tradition believes that a permanent, faithful, fruitful, and loving marriage is the most appropriate home for sexual intercourse because it provides the right environment to sustain the gift of one person to another over time.
  • Make sure your student really knows the basics.
    Whether they are sexually active or not, young adults need help to make responsible choices about sex. Unfortunately, teenagers and young adults are notorious for misinformation on sex. Try to determine your student’s level of knowledge and understanding and make sure your student has correct information about romantic relationships, dating, abstinence, “safer sex” options, contraception, and the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. You may need to ask them what information they have and then, if necessary, provide them with accurate information.
  • Talk to your student about casual vs. committed sex.
    Casual sex can make it more difficult to have a sexual relationship based on a deep commitment when the physical expressions of love lose their meaning as true gift of the self. It can also diminish the confidence that we can stay committed to anyone for long. The values that we hope for in sexual love, like intimate self-disclosure and deep trust of one another, are made possible by long-term commitment. The promises of a committed relationship provide a context for love between two individuals to grow into fullness in a way that is impossible for temporary sexual relationships. Uncommitted and/or recreational sex can bring unplanned complications and emotional involvements including pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), heartache, and loss. Sometimes we do not know how deeply connected we have become with someone until the relationship ends.
  • Tell your student that your door is always open.
    Most importantly, encourage your son or daughter to talk to you often about any questions they may have about sex. Remember that you are their person of choice when it comes to valuable life information. Let them know that you will be there for them. Remember to bring up the fact that open communication with you about sex does not in any way imply that you condone sexual behavior at their age or maturity. Saying this will clear any confusion your student may have and calm some of your own concerns.

Sexual Intimacy vs. Sexual Assault

The opposite of sexual intimacy is sexual assault, which violates SCU’s community values of dignity and humanity. Unfortunately however, sexual assaults can occur on all college campuses including Santa Clara University. The majority of cases include acquaintance/ date rape scenarios, in which the victim knows the assailant (i.e., classmate, person at party, neighbor), and up to 90 percent of campus rapes and sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol, by the assailant, the victim, or both. Therefore, it is important to discuss with your student the dangers of drinking and unwanted or forced sexual misconduct. Sexual assault allegations are taken seriously and handled as outlined in the Community Handbook ( In many cases, victims blame themselves for being sexually assaulted. Even if he/she was drinking or using drugs, the victim is never responsible for being assaulted. Sexual assault victims need support. Listen to them but don’t press for details. Above all else, believe what they are saying and respect what they are feeling.
  At SCU, every effort is made to ensure the reporting and judicial process is as smooth as possible. Victims are encouraged to report all instances of sexual assault. SCU seeks to provide a consistent, caring, and timely response when sexual assaults occur within the University community. These procedures were created to:

  • Facilitate the recovery of a sexual assault victim by providing prompt and com-passionate support services
  • Create a campus environment that both encourages and expedites the prompt reporting of sexual assaults
  • Facilitate the apprehension of assailants when such assaults are committed and also process cases through the campus judicial system
  • Establish and cultivate a climate of community involvement in sexual assault prevention
  • Increase the safety of the campus ­community

  Sexual misconduct is nonconsensual physical contact of a sexual nature up to and including rape. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, acts using force, threat, intimidation, or advantage gained by the offended student’s mental or physical incapacity or impairment of which the offending student was aware or should have been aware. Sexual misconduct involves both female and male victims.
  All reports of sexual assault, rape, or sexual misconduct should be directly handled through the Office of Student Life (408-554-4583), Campus Safety Services (408-554-4444), the Santa Clara Police Department (408-615-4700) or 911 if calling from a land line in the city of Santa Clara.