UI reveals initiative for game day safety - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI reveals initiative for game day safety

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- Hawkeye fans are getting ready for game day, but that also goes for University of Iowa Police and safety officials. They have a new plan to stamp out binge drinking and other unsafe home game practices, called the "Think Before You Drink" initiative.

University officials said Monday that most Hawkeye fans know how to handle themselves and their drinks when they come to tailgate. But a handful sometimes end up ruining the experience for others.

"They just simply aren't acceptable," said UI Athletics Director Gary Barta. He admitted alcohol consumption is part of the game day tradition for many Hawkeye fans, "but there is a minority that aren't doing it right."

Director of Public Safety Chuck Green says fans will now have one hour to consume alcohol after a game ends. UI police will also be enforcing a rule requiring tailgaters to leave university parking lots within two hours of the game clock running out.

"It gives people time to sober up, and make sure if they're going behind the wheel and they had an alcoholic beverage, that they are capable of piloting an automobile," Green said.

That's another thing police will be on the lookout for. They'll set up "safety checkpoints" around Kinnick Stadium, to ensure vehicles are free of open containers, and drivers are being responsible. Many fans have gotten away with carrying open containers of beer and wine on public sidewalks and streets around Kinnick, but Green says police intend to stop that.

"We have tried to do that in times past, but when the game starts, we really have to focus our attention, my officers and the officers we hire...on the stadium," Green explained.

Green admitted, measuring the success of this initiative will be a challenge. He hopes arrest and police reports will help him keep a pulse on any progress made.

"We'll look at complaints, which come through a variety of sources. We'll look at statements from fans, and athletics people, who are going to be on the ground looking around," Green said.

Vice President of Student Services Tom Rocklin says they'll eventually review what's working and what is not, and make tweaks or changes if necessary.

The group, Yes to Entertaining Students Safely, has launched a new website called UniversityofBingeDrinking.com. The group says the goal of the website is to draw attention to dangerous attitudes about binge drinking at the University of Iowa, specifically during tailgating at football games.

The American College Health Association claims the University of Iowa's binge drinking rate is 70 percent, nearly double the national average of 33 percent.

The university is looking to drop those numbers with programs like Think Before You Drink, but says it could take years to reach their goal.

Online Reporter: Brady Smith

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