Survey finds drop in UI binge drinking - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Survey finds drop in UI binge drinking

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

The findings of a National College Health Association survey report the University of Iowa drinking rate is down 8% from 2009, the lowest level in the last 10 years.

"I was very pleased to see that size drop because it means our students are a lot healthier and a lot safer than they were in the past," said Tom Rocklin, UI Vice President of Student Services. 

Officials believe the problem drinking rate has dropped in part due to a number of initiatives from the entire community in the past year, including the launch of several educational programs and Iowa City's ordinance banning minors from bars after 10:00 PM.

"Together I think we put together a powerful package of changes to the environment that resulted in changes to student behavior," Rocklin said.

So how significant are the findings in terms of the overall goal?

"It does take a tremendous effort and it is very impressive to see that kind of decline over a relatively short period of time," said Linda Major, assistant to the Vice Chancellor for student affairs at the University of Nebraska.

Similar to the UI, the problem-drinking rate at the University of Nebraska was once almost twice the national average.

"It took us five years to see a significant shift in our binge drinking," Major said.

Through community involvement, officials say they were able to cut the rate by almost 35% over ten years, and more importantly have sustained it since.

"You always need to find ways to keep your fingers on the pulse of the campus and respond quickly when you see some shift or change," Major said.

University of Iowa officials hope they are headed down a similar path.

The University of Iowa is entering year two of it's three year plan to reduce high-risk drinking behavior.  The goal is to reduce the binge drinking rate to 55% by 2013. 

According to the latest survey, that UI's binge drinking rate currently sits at 64%.

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