Officials from the University of Nebraska were in Iowa City last week to offer tips on curbing the problem of binge drinking among students at the University of Iowa. Doctor Victoria Sharp at the U-of-I says the University of Nebraska Lincoln has implemented a successful strategy on their campus by making sure everyone who has an interest in the issue is heard.
“They met with the downtown association, athletics and bar owners,” Sharp said. Students and faculty at U-N-L are also involved through a course called Curb Binge Drinking 101. In Iowa City, university leaders have supported new city laws that limit access to alcohol and have implemented stiffer penalties for students caught violating drinking laws. UNL Assistant Vice Chancellor Linda Major says progress requires persistence.
“We had more frequent binge drinkers than we had abstainers and low-risk drinkers. It took five years to flip those numbers,” Major said. Lincoln Police started a “wild party patrol” while local bars tightened entry requirements. Major says the measures have worked in Lincoln, but they may not work in Iowa City.
“It’s not a cookie cutter model. You just can’t pick up what we did at UNL and plop it down in Iowa City and at the University of Iowa and hope it’s going to work,” Major said. “It’s really a lengthy process.” Since UNL implemented its strategy nearly 10 years ago, they’ve cut binge drinking by about 20% and police have reported a 75% reduction in repeat neighborhood house party offenders.