University announces new initiatives to curb alcohol abuse

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 2:08pm

Days before the rush of fall move-in, the University announced several initiatives designed to curb alcohol abuse on campus.

As part of the plan, University Police will expand its relationship with the Ann Arbor Police Department in addressing alcohol use in off-campus neighborhoods. The University will also pilot a program to alert the parents of first-year-students who incur a second alcohol or drug violation.

The initiatives, announced Tuesday in an e-mail distributed to students by E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, and Eddie Washington, executive director of the Division of Public Safety and Security, also include an update to the “Stay in the Blue” program, a phone application that aims to assist students in monitoring their blood alcohol content.

“At U-M, we strive to create a caring community,” Harper and Washington wrote in the e-mail. “The safety of our students is our No. 1 priority. Our actions are intended to reduce the risk of harm and increase the safety of every student.”

The new programs are set to take effect in time for next week’s move-in period. As part of the closer partnership between AAPD and UMPD, officers will increasingly engage with students to help them “better understand how to avoid being in violation of alcohol laws.”

The plan’s other major component — increasing communication with the parents of first-year students — calls for the University to notify the parents of any first-year students under the age of 21 upon their second alcohol or drug violation. Parents would also be notified when a violation together with another “serious behavior,” such as requiring medical attention, driving under the influence or causing property damage.

According to Section 952 of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, universities are allowed, but not required, to notify parents when a student under the age of 21 commits a violation involving alcohol or a controlled substance.

During fireside chats and in media interviews, University President Mark Schlissel has frequently deemed alcohol abuse as one of the most pressing challenges facing the University.

The most recent Office of Student Conflict Resolution report, released in April, reported that the number of on-campus alcohol- and drug-related violations increased by 29 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Last year, the University shortened the freshman move-in period in an effort to curb alcohol use among on campus prior to the start of the fall semester.

According to preliminary data provided to The Michigan Daily in November, the Division of Public Safety and Security reported declines in alcohol-related emergency room visits and ambulance requests during Welcome Week, as compared to the longer pre-class period in 2014.

Freshman move-in will remain condensed. The two-day move-in period begins Sept. 3.