New College of Florida is creating a task force of administrators, faculty, students, alumni and board members to review all of the College’s alcohol, drug and substance policies and to examine campus culture on the issue of substance use.

The specific makeup and charge of the task force are still being determined, but New College President Don O’Shea expects it to be in place and at work shortly.

“We will do everything to ensure this never happens again,” O’Shea told faculty and staff on Monday.  “We can and will take steps to make sure all students are learning and working in a safe environment where they can reach their greatest potential.”

The task force’s creation is part of the College’s response to two recent deaths. On Friday, May 8, a registered guest on campus, identified as Dylan Besser, 21, a University of Central Florida student from Boca Raton, Fla., was found unresponsive in a dormitory room and pronounced dead at the scene.

On Sunday, May 10, first-year New College student Julian Toomsen-Hall, 18, of Georgia, was found unresponsive in a room in another dormitory, and pronounced dead at the scene. The Sarasota Police Department is investigating both cases.

New College has already taken several steps to ensure the safety and well-being of its students. Administration and staff held a community meeting at 7:00 p.m. Sunday to provide information, answer questions, and address concerns. Walk-in counseling was available throughout the night and continued all day Monday. Staff members have visited every dormitory room on campus. More programs are planned for this week.

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Contact: David Gulliver, News Services Manager, 941-487-4154,

New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences and is the State of Florida’s designated honors college for the liberal arts. Consistently ranked among the top public liberal arts colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and The Princeton Review, New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from 40 states and 15 foreign countries. A higher proportion of New College students receive Fulbright awards than graduates from virtually all other colleges and universities.

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