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Officials cite UI ‘Think Before You Drink’ for lower tailgating tickets

BY MATT STARNS | SEPTEMBER 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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This past weekend’s tailgating crowd was apparently less rowdy than crowds in previous years — cops issued fewer tickets over the weekend than they did during the Hawkeyes’ home opener weekend last year. And while the cause of the slump is unclear, some officials say it could be due to the University of Iowa’s year-old tailgate enforcement project.

“While it’s too early in the season to cite particular trends, we think all aspects of [the] ‘Think Before You Drink’ campaign — from stepped-up enforcement to greater awareness that game day should be fun for everyone — work together to encourage fans to drink and behave more responsibly,” said David Visin, an associate director of the University of Iowa police.

“When they do that, everybody wins.”

There were 68 percent fewer citations during the first home-game weekend, according to numbers released by the UI.

According to police, open-container citations decreased 68 percent, possession of alcohol under the legal age citations decreased 86 percent, and no citations were issued for public urination, six fewer than last year.

The only increase in citations between the 2010 and 2011 season-openers were public-intoxication charges — with an increase from seven in 2010 to eight this year.

Some students, however, don’t believe the police have an effect on tailgating practices.

“I think the number of police officers doesn’t have a lot to do with it,” said UI sophomore John Gregory. “People decide to tailgate regardless of the police presence.”

Visin declined to comment on the number of police officers present at the game, citing security reasons.

“We have not increased their numbers for several years,” he said.

Last fall, Hawkeye Athletics Director Gary Barta and Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, introduced the “Think Before You Drink” campaign to rein in the culture of harmful drinking in Iowa City.

The campaign imposed new regulations on the consumption of alcohol and tailgating practices near Kinnick by restricting drinking on UI property to university-owned parking ramps, informing students about the dangers of binge-drinking, and requiring tailgaters to leave within two hours of the game’s conclusion.

But some say the changes won’t stop their traditions.

“Alcohol and football in general have a place together because both are inclusive and fun; in tailgating, everyone shares a camaraderie for the sport and their school,” said UI sophomore Nik Owens. “Football is at its best when everyone is enjoying themselves, and alcohol provides an easy way for everyone to enjoy themselves and participate in Hawkeye football.”


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