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SHIFT is grounded in our commitment to enlist the entire community to make a difference. We are partnering with colleagues across UT’s campus, and in the areas surrounding campus.

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Read SHIFT's Open Letter - Sign and Share in Support of Changing the Culture of Substance Use at UT

Culture change takes all of us. Will you be a part of it?

Dear Longhorns,

This past December, news rocked the 40 Acres that federal authorities charged a group of former UT students, as well as one current student, for their roles in a counterfeit drug trafficking ring. While the depth and breadth of these arrests hit us all in different ways, this story impacts and involves each and every one of us. Whether we live in West Campus or Riverside, hail from Texas, the east or west coast, or even overseas; whether you use drugs recreationally or not, we are all part of this community and culture, and this letter is our bold call to action to have a different dialogue when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and the student experience at UT.

In watching this story unfold, we are struck by what it reveals about us, all of us, and our responsibility to acknowledge that misuse of prescription drugs is an active, and normalized, part of many students’ lives. We know that this kind of drug misuse and trafficking is not confined to particular areas, populations, or circles. In reality, the pressures, temptations and struggles of substance use affect our community and in turn each and every one of us. At SHIFT, we aim to think more inclusively about what it means to be a college student at UT and about the role alcohol and drugs play in our everyday lives.

This ring didn’t just allegedly sell prescription drugs to students across Central Texas—they sold incredibly dangerous counterfeit pills, laced with more powerful and potentially deadly drugs like fentanyl. If you choose to use prescription drugs not prescribed to you, it is vitally important you stay as informed as possible to ensure you are using them as safely as possible. Learn as much as you can about the substance you are taking. If you’re using, make sure you’re with people you trust and have a plan for getting help, should you need it. You can obtain free Naloxone (anonymously) from the 40 Acres Pharmacy right on campus to be prepared in the case of an accidental opioid overdose. Understand that taking drugs not prescribed to you increases your risks of adverse reactions, not only because it is illegal, but because we each have unique chemical makeups and can’t predict how we’ll be affected. The SHIFT agenda celebrates that the freedom of making your own decisions is what the college experience is all about—but we embolden you to be more mindful about why and what you’re using

Culture change starts with our own action and reflection. It starts with us focusing on what we consider “cultural norms,” or behaviors we shrug off, saying “that’s just the way it’s always been.” It starts with not assuming that college life is synonymous with substance use-- that just because someone is getting good grades means there’s no way they could also be struggling behind the scenes. We have the collective power to make seismic shifts so that we are all represented in the “college experience.” That this experience is not defined or relegated to stereotypes and misperceptions.

Here are some more ways you can #jointheconversation and be a part of SHIFT:

  • Think about your personal boundaries and ways that you can speak to them—what does a healthy lifestyle look like for you?
  • Learn about harm reduction and safer use. Texas Harm Reduction Alliance has some great resources!
  • Speak up, have difficult conversations, express concern. Be an active bystander. Consider learning more with BeVocal.
  • Learn more about Operation Naloxone and the life-saving medication to overturn an opiate overdose. Also, take note of the free, national “Never Use Alone” hotline– 1-800-484-3731
  • Take a moment to reflect on how and/or why you might be using. If you are managing your stress or mood, consider other ways you might address those issues more safely and sustainably.
  • If you are feeling academic pressure to succeed, learn more about the myths and facts of prescription drugs.
  • Whatever decisions you make around substance use, be aware of your resources and make the decision that feels right for you.
  • Join the SHIFT Student Advisory Board and help shape the voice and actions of culture change.

Let’s hold each other accountable for the ways in which we support a positive environment, as well as inviting each other into the challenge of doing better. Below are the signatures of your peers, faculty, and staff members dedicated to SHIFTing our campus culture. Together with our campus and community partners, and most importantly you, our students, we can continue to reshape UT’s new normal—one centered around a culture of care.

Join our bold call to action: SHIFT the dialogue when it comes to drugs and life at UT. Culture change takes all of us. Will you be a part of it?


Kate Lower, SHIFT Director

Cayla Palmer, Communications and Program Coordinator

Brent Iverson, Faculty and Dean

Chris Brownson, AVP for Student Affairs, Director CMHC

Sarah Frey, Staff

Winston Chapman, Staff

Susan Hochman, Staff

Erin Benton, Student

Faith Nguyen, Student

Liz Elsen, Staff

Jude Quaddumi, Student

Presley Pargin, Student

Lori Holleran Steiker, Ph.D, Faculty & Associate Dean

Kevin Chen, Student

Marilyn Lionts, Student

Daisy Kielty, Student

Huy Le, Student

Larkin Kruse, Staff

Luis H. Zayas

Alexa Stuifbergen, Dean, School of Nursing

David Springer, Interim Dean and Professor

Bethany Wendler, Staff

Susan Buckenmeyer, Staff

Renee Acosta, Faculty and Associate Dean

Bitia Buenrostro, Administrative Associate

Mitch Jacobson, Staff

Abigail Aiken, Associate Professor

Sophie Schott, Student

Kenneth Greene, Associate Professor

Avery Arsenault, Student

Catherine Virola, Staff

Whitney Campbell, Staff

Katherine Collins, Staff

Ben Lara, Staff

Maria Timm, Staff

Andrew Mendoza, Staff

Kate Czar, Staff

Tristan Ramos, Staff

Ashley Welch, Staff

Emily Doyle, Staff Psychiatrist

Dhruv, Student

Rachel Davis, Student

Hillary Procknow, Director & Faculty

Bailey, Student

Callee Cabrera, Student

Wesley Brewer, Student

Shannon Vincent, Staff

Katie, Staff

Michaela Clague, Student

Kim Wood, Staff

Jessica Bird, Student

Justin Samuel, Assistant Dean

Brittany Williamson, Staff

Sameeha Rizvi, Student


Chris Frei, Faculty

Jieliang Wang, Student

Amber Serra, Staff

Wilson Lu, Student

Camille DiGiaimo, Student

Lauren Gulbas, Faculty

Claire Zagorski, Staff

Audrey Clay, Student

Abel Kim, Student

Riley Anderson, Student

Delia Brownson Hindmam, Faculty

Xiomara Leonard, Staff

Arturo De Lozanne, Faculty

Fiona Conway, Faculty

Davis Roe, Student

Ruth Hernandez, Student, Mentor

Abigail Eudave, Student

Katlyn Brinkley, Staff

Desiree Alva, Staff

Emily, Student

Jasmine Mira, Student

Nastassia Anna Yammine, Student

Terry B Tibby, Staff

Javier Auyero, Faculty

Olyvia Moriarty, Staff

Shyann Ydalia Rodriguez, Student

Matt Bowers, Faculty

Ivana Bayona, Student

Rebecca Buckalew, Staff

Sandra Olsen, Staff

Sofia Alarcon, Staff

Yma Revuelta, Staff

Rohan Patil, Student

Ali Alkaabi, Student

Jeff Newport, Professor & Associate Chair

Xiomara Kiernan, Staff

Shavonne Coleman, Staff

Carlton Erickson, Retired Faculty

Marilyn Russell, Staff

Ryan Thompson, Student

Ana Dison, Staff

Sydney Benator, Staff

Olivia Lupercio, Student

Asha Ayyar, Student

Josh Barham, Staff

Jenelle Medina, Student

Rose doloir

Norma Fowler, Faculty

Katya Guzman, Student

Maress, Student

Alexandria Hohman, Student

Suseth, Student

Leslie Peterson, Student

Eunbin Cho, Student

Haley Jackson, Student

Gracie McCallum, Student

Beril Saygin, Student

Gabi Valenga, Student

Pria Gokhale, Student

Hope Decker, Student

Esmerelda Houston

Aswathi Thomas, Student

Lauren Carey, Student

Bianca Leal, Student

Andres Suniaga, Student

Bianca Leal, Student

Josiah Garza, Student

Mia Fuentes, Student

Jillian Merritt, Student

Anya Robinson, Student

Kennedi Davis, Student

Tamanna Sonthalia, Student

Mark Day, Student

J Shah, Student

Ava Meurer, Student

Luis H. Zayas, Dean

Winston Hung, Student

Sarah Jones, Student

Pooja Pisharody, Student

Rishika Prakash, Student

Jasdeep Kaur, Faculty

Luz Martinez Aburto, Staff

Neha George, Student

Shilpa Rajagopal, Student

Taylor Simons, Staff

Jeffrey Mayo, Assistant Director

Brittany O'Malley, Assistant Director for Prevention; Chair, UT Wellness Network

Allen Hardin, Exec. Sr. Assoc. Athletics Director

Terry Weaver, Staff

Mandy Colbert, Staff

Kelsey Lammy, Staff

Michelle Cajero, Student Assistant

Sahtiya Hosoda Hammell, Bystander Intervention Program Coordinator

Divya Kashyap, Student

Antonio Rodriguez

Angelica R Montes, Student

Katie McCormick, Student

Usma Asif, Student

Vivian Nguyen, Student

Sam Poloyac, Dean

Lauren Mammen, Student

Patty Moran Micks, Assistant Dean

Thea Woodruff, Well-being in Learning Environments coordinator

Erich Geiger, Staff

William Schwartz, Assistant Dean Faculty Affairs & Professor

Brad Love, Faculty

Jacquelyn Howard, Student

Mark Zentner, Staff

Terrance Hines, Executive Director & Chief Medical Officer

Pauline Strong, Faculty

Katie McGee, Staff

Kasey Claborn

Joan Long, Staff

Laura Dupuis, Staff

Sherry R Bell, Staff

Cathy Glazener, Staff

Debbie Morgan

Jessica Guerrero, Staff

Stacey Hoyt, Staff

Nina Clinton, Staff

Sheridan Aguilar, Student

Dani Herrmann, Student

Caroline Seyer, Student

Chad Zimmerman, Staff

Rishika Kolluri, Student

Sam Mills, Student

Apoorva Kakkilaya, Student

Brian Mathew, Student

Hung-wen Liu, Faculty

Mirna, Staff

Ken Lawson, Professor

Robert Williams III, Faculty

Oliver Gomez, Staff

Elyes Benhamou

Lucas G. Hill, Faculty

Kami Johnston, Student

Shel Arnone, Staff

Kristin Ashley Garling, Faculty

Megha Thakur, Student

Paige Muehlenkamp-McHorse, Staff

Angelina Ibarra, Student

Mackenzie Ulam, Student

Patricia Gutierrez, Staff

Michael Mackert, Director, Center for Health Communication

Eric T. Meyer, Dean, School of Information

Jessie manichia, Student

Agacia Ernestine, Student

Jennifer Nailos, Director

Lori Holleran Steiker, Ph.D, Faculty

Alexander Mercadel, Student

Sneha Bondalapati, Student

Bilal Haque, Student

Mandy Vachon, Student

Janet Koroma, Student

Lori Holleran Steiker, Faculty & UGS Administration

Kelly Soucy, Staff

Adrienne MacKenzie, Staff

Jacob Salazar, Student

Grace Bova, Staff

Julia Chafkin, Student

Tessa Lancaster, Student & Staff

Phaedra White Abbott, Staff

Alexandra Holmes, Staff

Morgan Stewart, Faculty

Ali Alkaabi, Staff

Tiffany Swonke, Staff

Kristen Kessel, Staff

Wendy Boggs, Staff

Brian Tran, Student

Brittain Sobey, Staff

Leah Nealis, Student

Arianne McArdle, Staff

Michael Bloomfield, Student

Patrick Davis, Faculty

Olivia Li, Student

Cristabella Trimble-Quiz, Staff

Brandy Whitten, Staff

Emily, Student

Nikki Zern, Student

Tom Brandt, Student

Nimisha Jain, Student

Callie Copeland, Student

Eri-Ife Adepoju, Student

Madelyn Russo, Student

Caleb Craft, Student

Namita Patel, Student

Kaitlin Sime, Student

Annesley Pulse, Student

Rishika Prakash, Student

Mara Asmis, Student

Haley Alfaro-Kim, Student

Maddie LeBlanc, Student

Bailey Grones, Student

Anya Robinson, Student

Divya M, Student

Ximena Tobon, Student

Kimberly Ngo, Student

Caroline Thomas, Student

Patrick Greer, Student

Jennifer Li, Student

Alexa Barkley, Student

Dixon Hankins, Staff

Kaylah Angel, Student

Karlene Armstrong, Student

Maizy Jeong

Samantha Marner, Student

Avni Doshi, Student

Sarah Jones, Student

Rainbow Di Benedetto, Staff

Anusri Gunde, Student

Annelise Peterson, Student

Doyeon Lee, Student

Kasey Faust, Faculty

Abigail Anyse Castro, Student

Mitch Jacobson, Staff


Wondering how you might connect with SHIFT? Well, howdy, partner!

The SHIFT Office
UT Austin
Student Services Building
100 W Dean Keeton Street

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