Miami forms new alcohol committee
By Eric Robinette, Staff Writer
March 31, 2015
OXFORD — Miami University has created a new Alcohol Coordinating Committee to try to change attitudes, behaviors and consequences of high-risk consumption, including binge drinking.
Miami’s President David Hodge last year announced the formation of an Alcohol Task Force, which issued its first report and action plan this week. The new committee has created a website listing its findings and programs, including drug and alcohol treatment and counseling.
The task force’s report found that Miami’s high-risk drinking rates ranked higher than the national average. From 2007 to 2012, abstainers and non-drinkers showed an increasing population nationally among new students, according to the report. However, four to six weeks after students arrived on campus, fewer students report being non-drinkers. Whereas nationally, this decrease is at a 15 percent rate of change, at Miami, it’s 24 percent.
“Simply put, Miami students are less likely to remain non-drinkers after they arrive on campus, compared to the national average,” the report states. Other findings included that Miami students were more likely to be binge drinkers.
“As a member of the task force, I appreciated how open students were as they talked to us about the culture at Miami. They are looking for nonjudgmental conversations about how to have alcohol be a part of their social lives but not the center of it,” said Jayne Brownell, vice president for student affairs, in a news release.
“There are also many students who don’t drink alcohol at all and who feel invisible on campus,” she said. “We need a new approach that is honest and direct and that helps students develop a ‘safe and smart’ approach in their alcohol decisions.”
Some students just back from Miami’s spring break on Tuesday seemed skeptical about how effective the new committee could be, or about how much of a problem alcohol is at the university.
“Me personally, I don’t think a committee is going to change how college kids drink on campus. This is just like any other college,” said freshman Shira Rodman of Maryland. “Diversity is a big issue on our campus, how people treat each other and where money goes is a big issue. I don’t think trying to change how students are going to drink is a pressing matter.”
Alex Wright of Cincinnati, a sophomore, said, “I don’t think Miami has that big a problem. I don’t think that many people binge drink. There’s certainly a group of people that do, but I don’t think it’s a majority.”
Samantha Bozada, a sophomore from Dayton, thinks there are misconceptions about just how much students drink.
“A lot of people say you’re not considered an alcoholic when you’re at college, which I think is a misconception, because I think you can be considered an alcoholic if you are drinking that much and binge-drinking every day,” Bozada said. “People think since you’re in college, it’s the time to drink a lot.”
The new Alcohol Coordinating Committee plans to form work groups dealing with specific topics, including policy and enforcement, off-campus interventions, academic support, education and prevention and treatment. Members of the committee will come from various branches of the university, including student government, athletics and the office of student wellness.