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