Lower BACs, fewer tickets are signs the plan is cutting down on underage drinking
Students blowing lower blood alcohol contents on Breathalyzer tests is a sign that the Comprehensive Alcohol Action Plan is working, Alan Galsky said.
The Vice President for Student Affairs said along with the lower BAC, smaller numbers of drinking tickets issued and high attendance at the first Late Night BU are all factors in the plan’s success.
While university officials knew underage drinking would never be completely eradicated, it is important that students are not drinking as much potentially dangerous amounts of alcohol, Galsky said.
University Police Chief Dave Baer said after a rocky start to the school year, students seem to be less behaviorally disruptive and the plan is one of several factors causing that.
“The weather is getting colder, or it could be the fact that the university is offering other amenities like a new recreation center that seems to be very popular,” he said.
Baer also said with the plan, students might think twice before drinking because they don’t want to face the new consequences the plan has created.
“If a student enjoys going to school here and being active here, and he knows his behavior could cause his removal [from the university], he may not want to drink that beer,” he said.
However, Baer said some students choose not to drink for personal reasons or past experiences.
“There are a lot of variables [in underage drinking],” he said. “Some may have had a friend who was hurt after consuming alcohol, and that makes those students not want to drink. Some students may have gotten two drinking tickets and don’t want another.”
Sophomore psychology major Hayley Braatz said it seems students are going out less, but isn’t sure the plan is the main reason.
“I think kids are afraid of task force and of getting a drinking ticket,” she said. “If people do go out, they are quiet about it. You don’t see any huge, loud parties very often.”
“If you take a look at that from a qualitative perspective, [the plan] is certainly working,” he said.
Galsky also said there were fewer drinking tickets and issues this past Halloween.
He said the plan, and Late Night BU especially, played some part in that.
“When you have 1,000 students … enjoying themselves with alcohol-free activities from 10 at night to two in the morning, that’s certainly part of it,” Galsky said.
The committee that formed the plan is continuing to meet two or three times a semester, he said. Out of the original committee, there is also an informal, smaller, sub-committee that will deal with the implementation of the remaining items in the plan.
Those committees would also deal with any complaints or ideas students or organizations have about the plan.
“To date, we haven’t had anybody say ‘this isn’t working,’” he said. “The plan is subject to change. If something comes up, something isn’t working or somebody has a really good idea, we take it to the committee and if they approve it we would revise the plan.”
Galsky said when this academic year is over, the committee will look at the plan and the numbers of drinking-related incidents throughout the year and make any necessary changes.
“Once we go through the first year, we look at what we’re doing and what we’ve done, and what seems to be working, we get a better picture of it,” he said. “We’re certainly open to change once we get our first quantitative assessment.”
Galsky said the university was trying to take care of the larger factors of the plan, such as the Late Night BU events, before working on the other factors.
One such proponent is a quiz the university will require students moving off-campus to take. Galsky said students moving off-campus next year might have to take the quiz, but it depends whether the committee decides to administer it by the end of the year.
University President Joanne Glasser said she also thinks the plan has been effective, but it is still in its early stages.
“We were pleased by the response we got from parents and students during the summer orientation program and the response from incoming freshmen in EHS classes has also been positive,” she said. “The first Late Night BU was an overwhelming success and the other late-night activities are giving students non-alcohol activities [as well].”