Alcohol abuse will most likely always be a problem at the University of Maryland, or any college for that matter. It is just simply part of the culture. Nonetheless, the problem can be diminished just like the teen smoking epidemic was in the 1990’s. Very few young people smoke now compared to the number that did 10 or 20 years ago. If the right actions are taken, and the solutions I’ll discuss in this post are a good start, then the problem of alcohol abuse can definitely be resolved. The solutions I discuss involve the police department here at UMD because of the way I framed the problem.
One problem that I believe is making the binge-drinking problem at UMD worse than it needs to be is policy confusion and student-police relations. Some young people drink because its an adventurous experience since its against the law. The problem stems from the fact that many students take this to the extreme. One solution to the problem is to stop sending mixed signals to college students. Can I drink? Do the police care? Am I going to get arrested? Go to jail? What is and isn’t okay? That’s a lot of questions. In an effort to reduce extreme drinking on campus, the University of Central Michigan police department visited students in their homes to talk honestly about drinking. They answered those questions for students. This dispelled myths about drinking for the students. Students, especially underage ones, were informed on what they could and could not do when it came to drinking. During the student interviews that I conducted, both interviewees, who are students here at UMD, agreed that this solution could work at this university.
One other potential solution to the problem, that you as students may be opposed to, is to decrease the accessibility of alcohol and decrease alcohol advertising. To use the analogy of smoking again, the use of cigarettes, especially among teens, decreased significantly after the tobacco advertising ban in the late ’90s. Decreasing advertising of alcohol around college campuses may help resolve the issue. Even though Keystone tastes like sadness, its hard to beat 150 beers for $70.
Throughout the semester, I have been searching for problems resulting from extreme drinking, problems contributing to it, and potential solutions to help alleviate the problem. As the semester progressed, I made changes to what problem I was trying to solve and also altered my proposed strategy several times. I had to make changes as I realized that some of my earlier proposed solutions had already been implemented at UMD. Though what I have presented here barely scratches the surface as far as potential solutions go, it’s a move in the right direction.
*Source for featured image on cover
For this blog post, I interviewed two University of Maryland sophomores about alcohol abuse on campus. After identifying and defining the problem, we talked about medical amnesty and student-police relations. One of my interviewees is in a fraternity while the other one is a mechanical engineering student at the Clark School of Engineering. In the following discussion, in order to protect their identity, I will refer to these two students as Student 1 and Student 2 respectively.
I began the interview by sharing what I have already learned about alcohol abuse at UMD based on my survey results. Both interviewees agreed that alcohol abuse is a problem at UMD and that something surely needs to be done about it. I then asked my peers how they defined alcohol abuse and got some really good answers. Student 1 defined it as “someone who continually needs assistance when they go out drinking.” Student 2 defined alcohol abuse as students who “don’t know their limits.” These great definitions, which helped further define the problem, provided a good basis to move forward with more specific questions. Though Student 1 then traced the problem back to alcohol experiences from high school, looking there for solutions is out of the scope of my research.
I asked both Students, 1 and 2, if they knew what medical amnesty was. Neither of them could give me a straight answer. Once I explained the law to them, they told me that they were familiar with it; however, they did not know it by its official name nor did they know all of the ins and outs of how the policy works. Student 1 mentioned that there was even a recent incident that occurred where he could have utilized the law to his benefit but didn’t because he didn’t know enough about it.
Next, I talked with my peers about the UMD police force. Student 1 argued that the police department isn’t too concerned about underage drinking. Student 2 mentioned that it seems like they only try to enforce and prevent reckless drinking. When I asked about the drinking policy confusion, one of the things I discussed in blog 7, Student 1 said that it is definitely controversial and sends mixed signals about what students can and can’t do. Nonetheless, he mentioned that the UMD alcohol policies have to remain as they are and the police are the ones responsible for what they choose to enforce. Based on the interview, I concluded that student-police relations at UMD are okay, but there is some room for improvement.
To close the interview, I shared with both students two of my proposed solutions for reducing alcohol abuse at UMD. Both students agreed that raising awareness about medical amnesty would at least help alleviate the consequences of severe alcohol abuse as students would be less hesitant to call for medical help when needed. Moreover, I explained another solution to my interviewees that involves police talking with freshman to let them know what to expect with the enforcement of drinking policies on campus. In my next, and final, blog post, I’ll go into much more detail about my proposed solutions for reducing alcohol abuse at UMD.
*Source for featured image on cover
Since last weeks post, I created and administered a brief survey about alcohol abuse for my fellow University of Maryland students to take. No one likes taking surveys. People, especially students with crazy schedules, usually don’t have the time to take a survey. To combat this problem, I made my survey very straightforward and simple. It consisted of only four yes or no questions. Because of its simplicity, I achieved a response rate of about 30%. This response rate is about 5% higher than what the average normally is for an email survey. In total, over 150 students completed the survey. This blog post will discuss the survey results and how they will help me finish up my research on the subject of alcohol abuse at UMD.
SURVEY: WHAT DID STUDENTS SAY?
Here’s a link to the survey I sent out to several UMD students. Feel free to take it if you have 30 seconds to spare. Actually, I bet you could do it in 15. Anyway, based on the survey, 63% of students agree that alcohol abuse is a problem on campus at UMD. Of those who agreed, 75% of them said that something needs to be done to resolve the problem. More specifically, they said “yes” to “do you think something needs to be done to help reduce the amount of alcohol abuse on campus?” Most of the students who didn’t think alcohol abuse was a problem clearly didn’t think the problem needs resolving. About 83% of students agreed that alcohol abuse decreases a student’s quality of life. Therefore, most students can agree that this is an important issue. It is extremely important to enjoy life to both the fullest extent and the highest quality possible – especially while you are young. Of course, as a college student, at least some drinking is normal and acceptable. It needs to done responsibly though so it does not cause more harm than good. The final survey question was phrased casually. It said “do you know someone who frequently ‘overdoes it’ when they drink?” This question was posed so I could get a sense of just how many students are acquainted with someone who may be having problems with alcohol abuse. About 60% of students said yes to this question. Note that the question used the word “frequently.” A lot of students have gone past their limits once. Alcohol abuse is when students do that several re-occurring times.
Based on the student survey I sent out, alcohol abuse is most certainly a problem at the University of Maryland. Many students on campus recognize the problem exists and that something needs to be done about it. A lot of students know someone who may be dealing with alcohol abuse. The problem is widespread. Based on my findings, I will form some interview questions to get more in-depth feedback from a UMD student about the issue. This will be addressed in next week’s blog post.
Big thanks to everyone who took my survey! Feel free to hit me up with any comments or questions that you have.
*Source for featured image on cover