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Alcohol plan in action

New data suggests drinking behavior may change with time
The number of drinking tickets given to students has decreased about 15 percent since the introduction of the Comprehensive Alcohol Action Plan.
Recently released data, which also includes a lower number of student BAC levels and fewer students being transported to the hospital, shows that the plan may be beginning to change students’ drinking habits. 
“It’s going to take some time to change behavior, and so I think what this has got to show is that there is change over time in behavior and attitude,” Vice President for Student Affairs Alan Galsky said. “And I  think we’re certainly not going … to be immune from alcohol poisoning or alcohol death even with this plan, but certainly it will reduce the likelihood.”
The data, which includes numbers from fall 2007 to fall 2008, showed six fewer students being transported to the emergency room. The average BAC level for students who blew Breathalyzers decreased from 0.143 to 0.093.
“I think it’s promising but by no means conclusive,” Galsky said. “While the numbers are promising, we can’t draw any major conclusions off one semester’s data. I would like to see next semester’s be better.”
The frequency of Campus/TAP visits affects the number of students ticketed.
“If you have one person out ticketing cars, you might have x numbers of cars ticketed,” University Police Chief Dave Baer said. “If you have five people out writing parking tickets, you might have a lot more cars ticketed.”
Galsky said he doesn’t know if the plan’s increased sanctions for underage drinking, which include a $50 university fine, influenced students to drink less.
He also said there is no evidence that students are being more quiet about drinking or hiding it.
Sophomore elementary education major Lauren Schiff said she doesn’t think students are drinking less, but they are hiding it better.
“I think people got smarter about drinking,” she said. “And they don’t walk around, and they’ll stay in one place so they don’t get in trouble.”
Aspects of the plan such as increased alcohol education and Late Night BU programming may also be contributing to the decrease in students ticketed.
“It’s hard to say how many more tickets or how many transports to the emergency room and how many more high BACs we would have had on Late Night BU nights,” Galsky said. “When you have 900 students in the Markin Center from 10 [p.m.] to 2 [a.m.] on a weekend night … you’re certainly discouraging them from going out and drinking.”
However, sophomore social work major Dana Falkin said she doesn’t think many students’ drinking habits are affected by alcohol education.
“I think kids are going to drink no matter what,” she said. “If people are telling them to be safer in drinking, I think it’s just going to make them drink more.”
Joyce Shotick, the executive director of Student Development and Health Services, said the decreased number of students being taken to the emergency room is a sign students may be drinking more responsibly.
“I would surmise that people are being conscious that if they are drinking they’re not drinking to excess,” she said.