UI drinking arrests seem to drop


By Anna Onstad-Hargrave  |  [email protected]

Despite being the No. 2 party school in the United States, alcohol arrests at the University of Iowa have decreased by 43 percent, and officials are attributing the decrease to a change in patrolling efforts.

The UI police reported the drop in reports from a state Board of Regents meeting last week.

“The drop in arrests is due to new policies around Kinnick Stadium on game days and the fact that we’re no longer patrolling inside bars,” said UI police Capt. Ian Scott.

The Daily Iowan previously reported that in 2014, the UI police department decided to return to its “original focus,” by patrolling areas with high traffic, such as the Main Library, IMU, UIHC, and residence hall routes as opposed to the downtown area.

The American College of Health Association’s National College Health Assessment reported a similar decrease. According to the 2015 report, high-risk drinking had dropped from 70.3 percent in 2009 to 54.2 percent in 2015.

“Football-related alcohol charges and arrests have historically made up a significant portion of [UI police] arrests,” said Lucy Wiederholt, the interim director of UI Public Safety, in a statement. “Those arrests continue to be down this year. Part of the decrease is because people are learning the rules and have been more cooperative, and another part of that decrease is the lasting impact of the 21-ordinance.”

The number of students who had used alcohol 10 or more days in the past 30 days dropped from 36.4 percent in 2009 to 26.1 percent in 2015, and the average number of drinks consumed in one sitting dropped from 7.4 in 2009 to 5.8 in 2015, according to data 2015 from national assessment.

Rebecca Don, a behavioral health consultant at Student Health & Wellness, said the decline in alcohol use coincided with the implementation of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan, which was created by the Vice President of Student Life in 2009.

The UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan focuses on reducing high-risk drinking on college campus. The plan includes the creation of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee. The panel is a multidisciplinary group of faculty, staff, and students that advises Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin on forming a plan to decrease high-risk drinking and related harmful consequences.

A campus-community partnership was also created from the plan. The partnership is between the UI campus and the city and is called the Partnership for Alcohol Safety.

However, the UI still has work to do. According to the national-assessment report, despite the decrease, UI students are still more likely to use alcohol, engage in high-risk drinking, and experience negative consequences from use than the national average.

“While we’re pleased to see these rates go down, it’s still a large issue that has a huge impact on the experience and success of students,” said Don. “It affects the entire culture of the university. Even students who choose not to drink at all also feel some impacts of the alcohol culture on campus.”

Don said the issue is not unique to the UI.

“It’s an issue colleges across the country are working on as well,” she said. “If there was an easy fix, someone would have fixed it. The reality is that it requires a multifaceted approach. It also takes time.”

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