UI holds summit to address binge drinking - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI holds summit to address binge drinking

by Jason Epner

IOWA CITY (KWWL)- Experimenting with alchohol is part of the maturation process for many college students. Campuses across the country experience alcohol-related issues.  Nationally, every year, more than 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, according to a study by National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

And sobering trends involving alcohol use at the University of Iowa are prompting community and campus leaders to find a solution.

"In some of these events people are getting very seriously hurt," said Sgt. Troy Kelsay, with the Iowa City police.

Many University of Iowa students consider the bar scene an attractive way to spend their evenings.  But some of the consequences are downright ugly.

"I think you'd be hard-pressed to go back and find a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night that there wasn't some sort of altercation where alcohol was involved," said Kelsay.

A 2001 University study sites 70 percent of UI students engaged in binge drinking during a two-week period. That's over one and a half times the national average.

Police are trying to fight the problem by allocating resources at the appropriate times, but they can only do so much.

This is why community and campus leaders came together to address the problem of high-risk drinking in Iowa City as part of a first-of-its-kind alcohol safety summit.

"With the leadership we have right now, we're in position to get moving on the issue," said Tom Rocklin, Interim Vice Presiden for Student Services.

Those in attendance collectively brain-stormed ideas that would help reduce the heavy consumption of alcohol.

"I think it's important for the University to provide other activities for the students," said Leah Cohen, owner of Bo James, a bar in downtown Iowa City.

Cohen, like many bar owners, is making sure her staff is properly trained to be able to tell when a client has had one too many.

"They can't speak, they slur their speech, those sorts of thing are very obvious that the person has had too much to drink and we need to train our staff that the person is cut off."

After all, everyone shares some responsibility in keeping the campus safe from the negative consequences of binge drinking.

The ideas generated from the summit will be provided as input to a steering committee which will identify projects to help reduce the problem of high-risk drinking.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner


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