Opinion | UI can help create a safer atmosphere for those who drink

While the University of Iowa has taken steps in the past to create safety precautions for students who drink, there is more to be done to help promote a safe environment.

Photo+Illustration+by+Kate+Heston.

Kate Heston

Photo Illustration by Kate Heston.

Elise Cagnard, Opinions Contributor


It’s a well known fact that the University of Iowa has a bit of a reputation when it comes to drinking. While its infamous reputation has fallen somewhat in the past decade, the UI is still ranked the 13th top party school in the country. Whether it’s because of dollar drink nights at Summit or late night trivia contests, students have a tendency to overindulge.

The UI has almost double the percent of students engaging in high levels of drinking compared to the national average. Because of this, it is imperative that the UI promotes safe drinking habits.

Currently, there are a few strides that the UI has taken to encourage safer drinking habits. An example of this is Nite Ride, which is a transportation service students can use between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day of the week.

While the primary purpose of Nite Ride is to provide safe transportation for students out at night and not necessarily targeted for those who are under the influence, it is still open to students who may have had too much to drink and need a ride. This offers a safe way for students to get home without putting both their lives and the lives of the people around them at risk.

The UI’s current plan for alcohol safety is focused on trying to reduce the amount of students who drink, or for those students who do drink, lowering the amount they drink. This decision was made by the Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee (AHRC).

While this is an admirable goal, it might not be a realistic one since students will likely drink no matter what the administration says about it because it is a common characteristic of campus culture. On a national scale, 26.7 percent of college kids engaged in high risk drinking in 2019. Comparatively, 47.7 percent of the students participate in high-risk drinking at the UI. This is why we need to take additional steps to promote healthy habits.

The AHRC has taken vital steps in helping students understand the effects of alcohol. They have shared important information with Greek life about the harms of alcohol and given non-alcohol drinkers a safe space to meet through UI staff.

While these are all amazing steps, there are some areas where AHRC is lacking. One prime example is that they have initiated a bystander intervention to be taught to the leadership of student organizations.

While it is important that the leaders of organizations know about bystander intervention, AHRC needs to take a step further and require all UI students to take regular training, not just leaders. This can be done through a yearly asynchronous course similar to the On Iowa! course that freshmen are required to complete.

While these steps are important, it does not replace the need of promoting resources for students who are drinking so they can stay safe.

Student organizations around the country have also taken their own steps to try to achieve this goal at their respective universities.

Isha Kalia, a current Stanford freshman, said campus organizations have taken steps to make it safer for students who drink. One thing that stood out to me was how on weekends, Kalia said volunteers from different student organizations would pass out food and water on campus to students who were drinking. This helps make sure that they were practicing safe drinking habits.

The UI should also focus on promoting safe drinking habits instead of primarily focusing on the prevention of drinking. There are easy and affordable things this campus can do that would make a big difference.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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