SACUA addresses alcohol consumption on campus

Luna Anna Archey/Daily
Mary Jo Desprez, Director of Wolverine Wellness "Alcohol Harm", speaks about the alcohol climate on campus in The Fleming Administration Building on Monday. Buy this photo

By Andrew Almani, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 7, 2014

The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met Monday with several administrators who are working towards reducing the public health risks of alcohol consumption on campus.

E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, Chief Health Officer Robert Winfield, director of the University Health Service, Wolverine Wellness director Mary Jo Desprez and J. Ann Hower, director of the office of new student programs, joined SACUA for the meeting.

During her presentation, Desprez presented materials on alcohol consumption trends and strategies for combatting high-risk drinking. She said 64 percent of students drink socially, and 61 percent drink to celebrate.

At one point, Desprez asked the faculty seated around the table if they were familiar with the “I’m Shmacked” video filmed at the University. No one in the room had seen it, so Desprez proceeded to play the video and explain the role that social media plays on the environment that induces drinking for students.

“I’m Shmacked’” is a video series that glamorizes partying and alcohol consumption at campuses across the nation. There are at least three “I’m Shmacked” productions featuring the University.

“This (video) has 807,749 views, while the University Campus Tour video only has 63,202 views,” she said. “This is recruiting students before we get to. I might not play the whole thing, because it sucks your soul.”

“The social network and the viral nature of the Internet is in some ways is great on college campuses, and it also has a harder time for us to manage in terms of the perception of alcohol use,” Desprez said.

Hower spoke about the changes the University is considering making to the orientation process due to concerns that new students have easy access to parties and alcohol, posing a high risk of irresponsible drinking.

Another concern expressed is the time students have before classes start, while many are moving to Ann Arbor. Several speakers expressed concerns that Welcome Week fosters an unsafe drinking environment—especially for new students.

Several SACUA members said they were concern about the issue, and requested additional meetings to discuss ways in which the administration is working to make progress.

The last SACUA meeting of the term will take place April 28.