Wednesday August 24, 2005

Reducing Alcohol Abuse Problems

University of Dayton and Surrounding Taverns Form Partnership in Effort to Reduce Alcohol Abuse Problems; One of a Few Schools in the Country with Such an Agreement.

It takes a community to promote the health and safety of its college students, and that's exactly what the Cooperating Tavern Agreement between the University of Dayton and surrounding taverns is all about. The University announced the agreement at a news conference, along with the tavern owners and community leaders.

As the 2005 school year begins, UD and seven nearby taverns have formalized an agreement regarding alcohol beverage sales and service that aims to reduce problems associated with alcohol abuse, such as underage drinking, crime, violence and vandalism. Administrators say the Cooperating Tavern Agreement is a cutting-edge approach to building relationships between universities and their surrounding communities to better ensure student safety. UD is believed to be one of just a few schools in the country with such an agreement.

"The prevalence of underage and high-consumption drinking threatens the health and well-being of all college and university students," UD president Daniel J. Curran said. "Underage and excessive drinking also disrupt the academic process and disturb the lives of those in neighboring communities. We're building strong relationships with our local taverns, which are just as concerned as we are about our students' well-being."

The taverns that have signed the agreement are: Milano's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Flanagan's Pub, Timothy's Bar, Jimmie's Cornerstone Bar, The Fieldhouse and The UD Pub, located in Kennedy Union on campus. Owners of all seven establishments helped develop the agreement along with the UD Alcohol Coalition, Heidelberg Distributing, Oakwood and Dayton police, UD public safety, the state liquor agency and the Southeast Priority Board.

The taverns will display a wall certificate and door sticker signifying they are part of the partnership, which has been in the works since last summer, according to Scott Markland, assistant dean of students.

"Our group realized we had many overlapping concerns regarding problems associated with alcohol abuse and underage drinking. We also believed our community would be better served through a collaborative approach than the 'us against them' mentality," Markland said. "The business owners have really responded to this because they want to be actively involved in creating positive change in the community."

The tavern owners agree that while their goal is to stay in business, they can't do that by serving alcohol irresponsibly.

"All of us coming together highlighted the similarities and the challenges we all face and it allows us to work together to alleviate some of those challenges because it's so important to us," said John Slaughenhap, owner of Milano's and Buffalo Wild Wings. "It gives us the resources to put great programs in place to make sure we're effective."

The agreement will include five main categories:
o Alcohol Sales and Server Training - promotes regular training classes for staff on state laws and turning away intoxicated patrons at the door;

o Advertising - discourages terminology evoking irresponsible alcohol consumption and advertising in residence facilities housing underage students;

o Celebratory Events - encourages staff to take precautions to prevent over-service and inform patrons of "house rules" regarding celebrations;

o Underage Drinking - supports identifying and reporting students presenting false ID and removing/reporting those who buy drinks for underage patrons;

o OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence) - encourages the practice of using designated drivers (e.g., free non-alcohol drinks) and assisting with options for patrons to find safe rides home.

UD Student Government Association President Drew Navolio is one of several students who worked on putting the agreement together. "Despite popular belief that UD students just want to party a lot, most students do want to be responsible and still have a good time," Navolio said. "This agreement with the surrounding taverns encourages the unique social atmosphere on this campus, but in a safe way that's in everyone's best interest."

Surrounding areas, like the Rubicon Mills and Fairgrounds neighborhoods, should also reap the benefits. Rubicon Mills Association President Chris Gauder says his neighborhood gets a fair amount of foot traffic between campus and the taverns.

"We just don't want to see any students get hurt and for UD and the bars to reach out and promote responsibility and awareness among the students, it's definitely a step in the right direction," Gauder said.

Fairgrounds resident Mike Reichard agrees. "Any time you have the ability to raise the level of responsibility and accountability regarding these issues, it will be beneficial to all of us who are close to UD," Reichard said. "This has been a sensitive issue, and this agreement is just a good way of doing business."

The Cooperating Tavern Agreement is the latest initiative launched by the University of Dayton to curb drinking issues on campus. Other efforts, such as providing ID scanners to taverns and sponsoring alcohol server training classes, already are paying off. According to Markland, Thursday night drinking, binge drinking and the number of students missing class because of drinking the night before have all decreased significantly on campus.

"We have a long-term commitment to providing a healthier campus environment for our students," Curran said. "That commitment carries over to our relationships with our neighbors and surrounding businesses. We're building an ethic of care and a network of support."

For more information, contact Linda Robertson at (937) 229-3257.