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Stats from UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan show decreases

BY JULIANA FABIANO | JULY 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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The 21-ordinance played a significant role in the Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan’s successful efforts to reduce University of Iowa students binge-drinking rates and high-risk alcohol initiatives, officials stated at the Partnership for Alcohol Safety meeting Wednesday.

The plan, released Dec. 6, which completed the first of its three-year initiatives to lower UI students drinking rates, reported a 33 percent reduction in emergency-room transports for students in the last 12 months.

But officials were unable to specify which Iowa City locations generated the lowest ER visits.

Kelly Bender, UI coordinator of Campus and Community Alcohol Harm Reduction Initiatives, said while the 21-ordinance and other initiatives may have contributed to this decrease, there was no clear evidence suggesting the decrease in emergency room transports came from downtown alone.

“We are not really sure if emergency-room transports occurred downtown or in the neighborhoods,” she said. “One thing we do know is this is another piece that fits with all the other data we have received and were encouraged, this is a real safety measure.”

Still Tom Rocklin, UI vice president for Student Life who was heavily involved in the “21 Makes Sense” campaign in 2010, said this decrease can be credited to the ordinance.

“I think the 21-ordinance contributed to the reduction in emergency room trips,” he said. “Other things did as well, but it’s hard to determine how much each initiative actually contributed.”

Statistics taken from the UI Dean of Students Office showed 52 emergency-room trips in the 2010-11 school year compared with the 77 trips in 2009-10 school year.

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said the ordinance was significant to the new numbers.

“Personally, I believe the ordinance has had a positive effect on this decrease,” he said. “I have spoke with emergency-room contacts and law-enforcement agents who are convinced the ordinance has shown signs of improvement because of the reduction of ER visits along with the decrease in binge drinking rates.”

The next two years of the plan will include evaluating the initiatives of year one and meeting with members of the committee to continue planning.

“We have a plan but it’s kind of a living document based on what’s happening,” Bender said.

Rocklin said the Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee is one month away from releasing next year’s plan, though he didn’t have specific details.

Year one activities included promoting engagement opportunities for first-year students, implementing parent interventions, and expanding the Red Watch Band program— a free CPR and alcohol bystander training.

Statistically, nonalcohol-based activities increased such as the number of students participating in late-night programming— which was 37,000 for the 2010-11 school year— and the Pick One program which accounted for 50 percent for first-year students.

“These numbers are showing that years of hard work may be paying off,” Hayek said. “The efforts addressed to the situation show progress and that this is an uphill climb but an achievable one.”


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