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Dec. 4, 2014 Volume 36, No. 14

Action steps devised to decrease student drinking

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MU and Columbia community have contributed to the Strategic Plan for Prevention

A draft of a plan to curb drinking among MU and other higher education students who frequent downtown Columbia bars has been created by the university’s Wellness Resource Center. Months in the works, the Alcohol Summit’s Strategic Plan for Prevention lists “action steps” that tackle three goals:

• Decrease the number of underage drinkers in Columbia

• Decrease the number of students who drink at high-risk levels

• Provide students in recovery with resources and support systems that enhance their recovery and better ensure their academic success

The document, prepared by Kim Dude, associate director of the Wellness Resource Center, focuses on environmental changes that the University of Missouri could implement and off-campus changes over which the city of Columbia has control.

Contributing to the document and to the research of the Strategic Plan for Prevention (SPP) have been MU faculty and administrators, administrators at Stephens College and Columbia College, local bar owners and landlords, law enforcement, and heads of community organizations. About 100 of them have met for two Alcohol Summits this year. In September, Dude presented a strategic plan to curb high-risk student drinking. The five-year plan includes a timeline and priorities.

In the SPP draft released to summit attendees Nov. 20, changes and enhancements to ongoing policies are recommended. Among those MU has the power to enforce are:

• Increasing the number of police officers who patrol East Campus and Greek Town

• Working to improve the consistency of enforcement of alcohol laws in the residence halls

• Enhancing the education of students about the liquor laws and consequences of breaking them

• Supporting administrators’ efforts to discourage freshmen from living in fraternity houses, where drinking rates typically are higher than at other student housing sites

Other recommendations are to lessen peer pressure by promoting the fact that most students are not abusing alcohol (one-third of MU freshmen do not drink, according to the 2013 Missouri College Health Behavior Survey), and broach what to do about events and conditions that research has shown can lead to student alcohol abuse. According to the document, these include Reading Day, Senior Send-off and lack of Friday morning classes, which a 2007 MU study found can result in higher rates of student drinking Thursday night.

Almost no students ran afoul with campus administrators or were arrested by police for public intoxication in 2013, according to the behavior survey. Only 1 percent was arrested for DUI.

However, though binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks within two hours for men and four for women) has declined in recent years, 37 percent of MU students still engage in this high-risk behavior, the 2013 Missouri College Health Behavior Survey found. Meanwhile, 68 percent of male students in Greek housing binge drink.

The next Alcohol Summit is planned for April 2015. Contact Kim Dude at for more information on students and alcohol.