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AMOD Project Site: Building Responsibility Campus/Community Coalition (The University of Delaware and the City of Newark)

New AMA Poll Finds College Binge Drinking a Top Concern for Parents;  Identifies Strong Support for Policy Solutions

On August 29, 2001, national polling data will be released by the American Medical Association (AMA) indicating that college binge drinking is a top concern of parents of college and college-bound students.  Ninety-five percent of parents believe that binge drinking is a serious threat to their children, and 85% say that easy access to alcohol contributes to high-risk drinking.  
The national survey findings will be released by the “A Matter of Degree” (AMOD) Program of the AMA with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Through AMOD, ten of the nation's leading Universities participate in a national pilot project to reduce binge drinking and its harmful effects on college communities.  
Recognizing that binge drinking is not solely a matter of individual responsibility, the ten town-gown partnerships are part of a national project designed to counter the many social influences that encourage high-risk drinking, including cheap drink specials and other dangerous alcohol promotions;  the high concentration of bars near campuses;  advertisements that target young people, and the lax enforcement of the legal drinking age.
The AMA will also release a “Top 10” checklist of campus-community warning signs to help parents assess college communities and how they may contribute to alcohol-related problems.  
The University of Delaware and the City of Newark are playing an important part in this national effort to curb high-risk drinking among young people.  The “Building Responsibility Campus/Community Coalition” (BRC) was formed to curb binge drinking by changing the norms, attitudes, policies, and practices affecting high-risk drinking on and off the college campus.
This project differs from past efforts to reduce high-risk drinking by identifying it as a public health issue with emphasis on the rights of the community taking precedent over the behavior of the individual.  In addition to holding individuals responsible for their own behavior, the BRC is identifying the environmental factors such as alcohol advertising and marketing, institutional policies and practices, and social and cultural beliefs and behaviors that contribute to alcohol abuse.  By forming a broad base campus-community initiative, participants in the BRC will create long-lasting changes in the environment through policy changes that discourage the behavior and practices that encourage and sustain high-risk drinking.
The University of Delaware and President David P. Roselle have been proactive in addressing alcohol-related problems on campus:
  • Letters are sent to the parents of students found guilty for violations of the campus alcohol policy. 
  • Harsher penalties, including stiffer fines and a three-strikes and out (suspension) policy were initiated along with more efficiency in the adjudication of cases in the student judicial system. 
  • A 5-Star Greek Rating system links the privilege of rushing first semester freshmen to a chapter's academic standing and social conduct.
  • Students who are arrested in the community for DUI, using false identification, or violation of zero tolerance laws are reported to the University's judicial system for additional disciplinary action.
  • The number of alcohol-free activities has increased both on and off the campus.
The City of Newark has taken the lead in recognizing their responsibility of how the environment contributes to high-risk drinking.  To these efforts, the City has:
  • Required deed-restrictions on some recent construction projects for retail space on Main Street that prohibit alcohol from ever being sold at these locations.
  • Lowered the BAC level standard for DUI within the city of Newark to .08.  The BAC level in the state of Delaware is .10.
  • Approved amendments to the zoning code to:  (1) prohibit businesses licensed as restaurants from charging an age-based cover; and (2) prohibit businesses that provide alcoholic beverages for consumption on and off the premises from hanging outdoor banners that contain any message regarding happy hours, reduced price drink specials, or any other form of alcoholic beverage promotion.  
The Building Responsibility Campus/Community Coalition has been working on policy objectives addressing two major areas of concern:
1. Control the access, availability, and pricing of alcohol in downtown Newark
  • The Policy Enforcement Task Group is working with city officials to exert more local control over businesses that create an excessive demand for municipal services.
  • The Community Outreach Task Group conducted a survey of Main Street businesses that do not serve alcohol to assess the vandalism and other property damage to businesses and how the misuse of alcohol affects the public perception of Main Street.  Results are available (contact Tracy Bachman at 302-831-3115).
2. Reduce the secondhand negative effects of house parties and high-risk drinking on neighborhood residents
  • Last Drink Surveys are conducted with UD students and those arrested for DUI to determine the location where they last consumed alcohol.  Results are available (contact Tracy Bachman at 302-831-3115).
  • The Policy Enforcement Task Group is working to amend the Disorderly Premise ordinance that holds both tenants and landlords accountable.
  • The BRC is planning to hold a press conference the week after Labor Day to kick off its “Neighborhood Campaign.” 
For more information, please contact the following individuals:
President David P. Roselle, University of Delaware (302-831-2111)
Mayor Harold F. Godwin, City of Newark (302-368-9777)
Dr. John B. Bishop, Assoc. Vice President for Counseling and Student Development, UD (302-831-8107)
Chief Gerald Conway, Newark Police Department (302-366-7110 ext. 124)
Kriste Emmett, Parent of UD student (302-999-0241)