Wednesday, December 16, 2009

UI's Alcohol Problem: Many Solutions, Little Will

December 16, 2009, 9:35 a.m.

Alcohol Back in the News? No, Always in the News
(brought to you by FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com*)

[Click here for an annotated, chronological list with links to 31 prior blog entries on this and related subjects. And see, "UI's Alcohol Abuse: Look to Nebraska; What Works to Reduce College Students' Alcohol Abuse," December 28, 2009.]

In the 12 years that I spent on the council, I tried several times to get the council to pass a 21 ordinance. University of Iowa presidents Mary Sue Coleman and David Skorton also encouraged the council to pass such an ordinance -- along with the UI College of Public Health, the public school system and numerous others within the community. In fact, every piece of credible evidence presented to the council called for a 21 ordinance -- all of which the council ignored, choosing instead to listen to the bar owners and patrons of the bars.

-- Former Iowa City Mayor, Ernie Lehman, "Council's Moral Character Problem," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 26, 2009, p. A11
Iowa City's alcohol problem is serious. "How serious is it?" I hear Johnny Carson's audience respond.

It is so serious that the University of Iowa's college paper, the award-winning Daily Iowan, normally a supporter of the free flow of alcohol to students of all ages, has decided it must at least try to explain the problem to those who profess to be adults: members of the Iowa City City Council and the UI's top administrators. "Number of UI alcohol crimes rise," Daily Iowan, December 4, 2009; Danny Valentine, "The Siren Song of Alcohol," Daily Iowan, December 7, 2009, p. A1; and Editorial, "The comprehensive solutions to solving the drinking problem," Daily Iowan, December 7, 2009, p. A6.

Danny Valentine's major spread on the subject, with the graphic photos, was especially powerful. And see Rekha Basu, "Don't dismiss college drinking as harmless," Des Moines Register, December 9, 2009.

Unfortunately, even that report doesn't seem to have had much effect in stiffening the spines of those who, if they were to do anything meaningful, would have to stand toe-to-toe with the powerful alcohol industry, bar owners, and their landlords.

Meanwhile, the latest in a decades-long string of alcohol committees and task forces has now decided the subject is so sensitive that they have to exclude the public from its meetings and conduct their conversations in secret. Regina Zilbermints, "Alcohol group meets — in private," Daily Iowan, December 15, 2009.

The Iowa City City Council is unwilling to enforce the law in the way that rational cities do: with ordinances providing that those who are legally forbidden to possess, buy, or consume alcohol cannot be admitted to establishments the sole purpose of which is to profit from selling them alcohol. See, e.g., Rachel Gallegos, "Ames 21-only ordinance 'piece of a larger strategy,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 27, 2007. (The Council and UI were even unwilling to support an ordinance that would have permitted them to consume alcohol illegally up until 10:00 p.m., but required them to leave the bars during the hours when the fights break out, from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.) So it focuses on the number of underage drinkers found in the bars, and refuses to grant liquor licenses to the worst offenders. In addition to being irrational, there are three other things wrong with this approach: (1) with 50 bars within walking distance of the campus, closing one or two won't have much effect on the levels, and consequences, of binge drinking. (2) The bars aren't closed, they are permitted to continue to operate while they appeal. (3) And how's even this weak-kneed approach been working for the City? Not well. Josh O'Leary, "Judge: Bars should be allowed to serve alcohol," Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 16, 2009; Nicole Karlis, "Judge overturns liquor-license denials," Daily Iowan, December 16, 2009.

The Council's other worthless effort is the requirement that bars can only be within a given distance of each other. Why worthless? No bars are closed; they are all grandfathered in. Moreover, as I understand it, if any bar owner ever did want to give up his or her liquor license, this license to print money, all they would need to do is to sell the bar to another bar owner. That would not be considered the establishment of a new bar.

Fortunately, there is one adult in Iowa City who is internationally recognized for his research and knowledge of this subject. That's the good news. The bad news is that little more attention has been paid to his findings by Iowa City's powers that be than has been paid to my comparable suggestions (which are, admittedly, less worthy of attention than his). Peter Nathan, "Guest: To curb drinking problem, look to research and parental involvement," Daily Iowan, December 15, 2009.

I cite, and am about to quote from, this op ed column not for the specifics of what it contains. There's no way that a lifetime of Peter Nathan's research can be presented in a brief op ed column.

No, I refer to it for the broader observation I have often made in writing about this subject over the years: In dealing with problems of alcohol abuse and its consequences on college campuses, the challenge is not one of finding possible solutions. It may be science, but it's not rocket science. The solutions, the data, the best practices, are out there. Indeed, in addition to the results from colleges and cities around the country (and the world) the U.S. Department of Education has an entire center devoted to the subject: The U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention.

No, the challenge, Iowa City's challenge, is figuring out how to get those who could implement those solutions to do so.

Perhaps what we need is to feed the City Council members and UI administrators the Powdermilk Biscuits that Garrison Keillor says will "give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done."

Here are some excerpts from Nathan's column:
The Dec. 7 Daily Iowan article “The siren song of alcohol” brought home with great immediacy the terrible consequences of high-risk drinking at the UI. Admittedly, a good deal of what was written is familiar: Iowa’s dubious standing as one of the nation’s leaders in abusive drinking, the high rates of student self-reports of adverse consequences of this drinking, the growing numbers of arrests for alcohol-related events in Iowa City, and the proliferation of bars in the city. But interwoven with these familiar observations were the graphic, eyewitness reports chronicling the suffering of UI lethal drinkers because of their drinking. That was new on the pages of the DI. . . .

It’s hard to read about the college-age man crumpled and abandoned on the curb outside One-Eyed Jakes, his body immobilized by alcohol. Or the Code 3 young woman, disoriented and covered with blood, unsure of where she is. Or the bloodied student outside Summit Bar and Restaurant, punched by someone he didn’t know. . . .

[I]t’s hard to deny that high-risk drinking takes a huge toll on UI students. . . .

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has compiled a list of programs that “have proven effectiveness.” . . .

[S]trategies include increased enforcement of the minimum drinking-age laws, enforcement of other laws to reduce alcohol-impaired driving, restrictions on the density of alcohol outlets, increased prices on alcoholic beverages, and more responsible beverage-server policies. . . . [A] more rigorous and consistent effort to change the drinking environment here may be worth the effort.

[It] could well include a solicitation for greater involvement of parents . . .. Research done at universities elsewhere suggests that increased parental involvement in their students’ decisions about drinking may help moderate abusive drinking.
As I noted earlier, it's neither Nathan's purpose nor mine to itemize and explain even the best, let alone all, of the strategies supported by research and other universities' experience.

As I wrote over a year ago on the occasion when a number of university presidents were proposing lowering the drinking age to a 18 (a movement that UI's President Sally Mason, commendably, refused to join):

The problem is that when these academic leaders are called on the fact they are ignoring the scientific literature on the subject that has come from research at "America's Best" academic institutions, they do the little sidestep . . .

video


[The preceding one-minute fair use clip is from the delightful 1982 R-rated full-length musical comedy, "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," staring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, among a great many other accomplished and well-known actors, and still available for rental and sale. It's based on a true story of a brothel outside LaGrange, Texas, that was ultimately closed down in 1973, following the work of investigative reporter Marvin Zindler of KTRK-TV, Houston. The writing was done by Larry King (whom I remember from Austin in the 1950s), the Governor was played by Charles Durning, and the studio was RKO Pictures. The film is copyright by, presumably, RKO. The use of this miniaturized, very brief clip is for non-commercial, educational and commentary fair use purposes only. Any other use may require the permission of the copyright owner.]

. . . and say, "Oh, we're not really proposing the age be dropped to 18, our statement just calls for 'an informed and dispassionate public debate.'" Which, indeed, it does.

But for a group of academics to say they want an informed debate while simultaneously excluding from that debate any and all solid evidence that is contrary to their position, and urging little better by way of support than one could get from any drunken undergraduate at one of their campus bars on a Friday night, does not speak well for "the academy."

See, e.g., these excerpts from "Underage Drinking: Why Do Adolescents Drink, What Are the Risks, and How Can Underage Drinking Be Prevented?" Alcohol Alert, no. 67, January 2006, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Perhaps most telling is this statement under "Interventions for Preventing Underage Drinking": "Increasing the age at which people can legally purchase and drink alcohol has been the most successful intervention to date . . .."

The "most successful intervention to date" and these 114 "higher education leaders" (a) make no reference to the finding, and (b) pick doing away with it as their top priority for treating the binge-drinking problem?

"Solving Illegal Behavior Problems by Making It Legal," August 20, 2008.
No, the purpose of this blog entry is simply to make the point again, as I have over and over during the past couple of decades, that until the Council and UI administrators demonstrate the willingness to take whatever political heat may result from effective action, illegal alcohol consumption by UI's undergraduates will continue to cause all too many to continue to flunk out, drop out, and pass out.
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For other recent blog entries you may be looking for, go to "There Is No War in Afghanistan," December 4, 2009, and look through the links at the bottom of that blog entry.
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* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source, even if I have to embed it myself. -- Nicholas Johnson
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Here are 31 prior blog entries regarding Iowa City's alcohol problem, its consequences, and possible remedies:

"More College Football Conflicts & Concerns," October 7, 2006 ("The University of Iowa, ranked even highter nationally for the quantity of its students' drinking than for the quality of its football team (now 15th), professes to be making efforts to curb student drunkenness. It has something called the 'Stepping Up Project, which encourages students to avoid alcohol.' The co-chair is Jim Clayton. He was not enthusiastic about the 'University of Iowa plan to sell alcohol to people in Kinnick Stadium’s luxury seating areas this year,' because as he says, 'It’s a cultural message that we send to young people that alcohol has to be part of a sporting event.'");

"I'll Drink to That; Binge and problem drinking by college (and high school) students," October 10, 2006 ("Finding ideas regarding what can be done to alleviate college students' excessive drinking is not a tough research job. Put both "alcohol" and "college" into Google . . . and you get 29,700,000 hits in 3/10ths of one second. . . . But the one at the top of that list, 'College Drinking,' is not a bad place to start. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health seemed to me an especially rich repository of information, research data, and best practices. And if that's not enough, as noted, there are another 29,000,000 to explore.");

"'Hat's Off' to the Press-Citizen," October 12, 2006 ("Both the Press-Citizen and The Gazette editorialized this morning (October 12) regarding the recent task force proposals about UI undergraduates' binge drinking. . . . Both took positions consistent with my blog entry yesterday, that the problems, and recommendations, have been around for decades and that nothing gets accomplished, not for a lack of solutions, but for a lack of will on the part of the Iowa City City Council, seemingly beholden to the local owners of the 42 bars competing for student drunks.");

"Public Officials and Private Actions," August 7, 2007 ("However serious DWI may be, however appropriate editorial and other campaigns to prevent it may be, I don't think it's warranted to select and publicize such an offense as a means of attacking an 'enemy,' and calling for his or her resignation (which the attacker would have wished for anyway, with or without the DWI) -- unless there is reason to believe the official's performance in their job has been impaired in some way.");

"We're Number 5! and Athletes Crowding Jails," August 21, 2007 ("by golly we're 5th in the nation for students' consumption of hard liquor according to the Princeton Review (not to mention number of bars per student and "most profitable market in which to operate a bar with the least City Council and University oversight" according to me). Hey, at least we're known for something positive around here. Hieu Pham, "UI Again Ranks Among Party Schools; School Also Ranks 5th for Hard Liquor Use, 18th for Beer Use," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 21, 2007, p. A1. . . . The University's own statistics reveal that 'nearly 70 percent of U of I students surveyed last fall by Student Health Services said they had participated in binge drinking in the previous two weeks.'");

"Abu Ghraib, Rumsfeld, and Athletes' Facebook Photos," August 23, 2007 ("'The Facebook pages of more than 20 underaged University of Iowa football players have photos appearing to show them engaging alcohol in various ways, from drinking to posing with liquor bottles or beer cans. . . . "She can't say no if her mouth is taped shut," is posted as a favorite quote on one player's page.' Brian Morelli, "Alcohol Abundant on Players' Sites; Review Shows Questionable Material," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 23, 2007. You see, the problem is not that athletes (and other students) might feel that way, think those things, or even say those things. The problem is that when they put them up on their Facebook page it risks embarrassing the University. . . . Is it that we really care one way or the other whether our students are abusing alcohol, consider rape a matter of right, and credit cards free for the taking? Or is it just that we don't want to suffer the institutional 'embarrassment' of having our students' behavior -- and our obvious attitudes about it, as reflected in our inaction -- reported by the media or otherwise widely known?");

"Hawkeye Football's Externalities," September 9, 2007 ("[My intention] is simply to try to portray, through pictures, the impact that the football program has on one of Iowa City's most historic residential neighborhoods when the football machine is fueled on alcohol and left to run without supervision.");

"Serious Reflections on "Football's Externalities," September 13, 2007("the most serious aspect of out-of-control, unsupervised, drunken mobs is their potential to create significant, regrettable disasters. You name it, you imagine it, it could happen. Fights between fans of rival teams that involve increasing numbers of people, and the resulting serious injuries or death as guns or knives are ultimately involved. When a drunken student suffocates to death on his own vomit, or falls from a building to his death (it's usually a 'his'), it may make the news. The hundreds of injuries from assaults and accidents do not. We've seen the extent of injury and death from drunken, out-of-control mobs of soccer fans around the world. It could happen here. Excessive alcohol can encourage deliberate vandalism and property damage, possibly even involving accidental or deliberate fire damage.");

"Iowa City's 'Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,'" September 22, 2007("[There is] some question as to why the local bar owners (and their advocates on the City Council) are fearful of less revenue, since presumably they would assert they're not selling to under-age patrons now anyway -- either before or after 10:00 p.m. Iowa City's version of '21-only' doesn't even go so far as to enforce the laws already on the books in a rational way -- as is done in Ames! It leaves open the opportunity bar owners have to sell as much alcohol to under-age drinkers as they can possibly get away with up until 10:00 p.m.! And you call that 'prohibition'??!! Give me a break.");

"Music Management Revenue Alcohol -- and Good News/Alcohol and 'A Tale of Two Cities,'" October 6, 2007("As evidence that it doesn't have to be this way, that other cities take a different approach, consider what Marion, Iowa, has just done. It doesn't wink at illegal sales of alcohol to underage patrons of bars. It doesn't try to represent that kicking them out of the bars at 10 p.m. is a meaningful restriction on binge drinking. Its idea of a real loosening of restrictions on a meaningful '21-only' restriction is to permit underage patrons to enter bars (a) that do "a majority of their business in food sales," not prior to 10 p.m., but (b) between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for those who want to buy lunch! 'Underage Patrons OK in Bars During Midday,' The Gazette, October 6, 2007, p. B1.");

"Why '21-Only' Isn't," October 19, 2007 ("There's lots of action -- or at least discussion -- about the so-called '21-Only' proposal. Why 'so-called'? Because it's not about '21-only' at all -- notwithstanding that characterization by supporters and opponents alike. The Daily Iowan editorializes [that it's an] 'ordinance banning anyone under the age of 21 from the Iowa City bars' -- a brazenly inaccurate characterization. Editorial, "21-Only Voting Might Spur Increased Student Engagement," The Daily Iowan, October 19, 2007, p. A6. Under this proposal the Iowa law would continue to be openly violated in Iowa City's bars up until 10:00 p.m. You may think that's a good idea, you may think it's a bad idea, but it is clearly not 'banning anyone under the age of 21 from the Iowa City bars.'");

"Sidestepping; 'It's a Possible Maybe,'" October 29, 2007 ("When it comes to . . . arming campus police with handguns it is suggested that this is desirable because (a) the police advise it would be a good thing to do, and (b) 'everybody's doing it' on other Big Ten campuses. (2) But when it comes to taking a position on binge drinking . . . there is absolutely no meaningful action proposed or taken, notwithstanding that (a) the police advise it would be good to support this proposed ordinance, and (b) what "everybody's doing" -- virtually all Big Ten campuses, as well as our own sister Regents' university -- is to . . . use the common sense, no-brainer approach of banning the entry into bars of those who cannot legally engage in the activity that profits the owners of those establishments.");

"Bikes and Ballots," November 7, 2007 ("Bar owners are operating establishments the sole purpose of which is to profit from the sale and consumption of alcohol, knowing that a significant proportion of the consumption of alcohol from which they are profiting is being done by those who are doing so illegally. Therefore, I contend, they are illegal drug dealers -- with a political and economic power, not unlike the MedellĂ­n Drug Cartel in Colombia, to control our City Council and University.");

"Election Returns; City Votes FOR 10:00 p.m. Drinking Break, 90% of Residential Precincts Favor Ordinance!" November 8, 2007 ("The University is going to appoint a Task Force??!! You're going to have conversations with students and bar owners??!! You've got to be kidding -- except by now it's so damn obvious what you're doing that you're no longer kidding anyone. This University has gone through hundreds of thousands of dollars from foundations and others for its 'Stepping Up' project with no discernible impact whatsoever -- except an increase in the number of students 'Stepping Up' to the bar, binge drinking, and then staggering out (or passing out)");

"Getting Real About Alcohol; Don't Get Tough, Get Effective," January 18, 2008 ("We should not be surprised that our nation's number one hard drug problem by any measure (e.g., economic impact, health/medical consequences, numbers of people affected, involvement in crime and violence, adverse impact on the brain, prison population, unwanted sexual activity ('accidents cause people'), impact on fetus, automobile and other death and injury) is a major problem in Iowa as well.");

"Alcohol, Three Items and a Comment," January 22, 2008; ("So what are [the five] alternative approaches? (1) Enforce the 21-only law; and the most rational and administratively feasible way to do that is to follow Ames' example. If you don't want under-age students to drink you don't permit them to enter establishments the sole purpose of which is to prosper from the sale of alcohol. . . .");

"UI and the ATF II/Alcohol," February 15, 2008 ("Alcohol abuse is still in the news, creating its easily predictable consequences. (And note how many of these stories were all in one day's paper!)");

"Solving Illegal Behavior Problems by Making It Legal; Higher Education's 'Leadership,'" August 20, 2008 ("for a group of academics to say they want an informed debate while simultaneously excluding from that debate any and all solid evidence that is contrary to their position, and urging little better by way of support than one could get from any drunken undergraduate at one of their campus bars on a Friday night, does not speak well for 'the academy.'");

"Alcohol Update," September 6, 2008 ("The Iowa City City Council is responsible for the wink and a nod it all too often gives to Iowa City's alcohol industry -- the radical increase in number of bars close to campus, the drink specials and other practices designed to encourage excessive student drinking, the failure to lift liquor licenses for violations, and the (what better phrase than 'idiotically ridiculous') policy of permitting underage students into bars, the sole business purpose of which is to profit from the sale of alcohol -- presumably assuming that they're not going to drink once there.");

"The Economics of Binge Drinking: A Proposal," September 18, 2008 ("[This is] a sub-set of the focus on keg sales, beer pitcher specials, and what the Council referred to as 'well-drink or mixed-drink pitchers.' Would it be possible for the Council to legislate the elimination of such discounts? . . . Each bar owner could continue to [set prices] -- presumably coming up with prices that would maximize his or her income. But it would be required to be a permanent, fixed price -- per ounce or other volume -- that would not vary by occasion (e.g., 21st birthday), day of the week or year, or time of the day (e.g., "happy hour");

"How About Them Hawks -- Again; A Football Players' Thoughts Turn To . . .," April 7, 2009 (commentary on reports of a string of football players' arrests for alcohol abuse and its consequences);

"Onion's Binge Drinking Proposal; Creative Approaches to Alcohol Abuse," April 10, 2009 (Here is The Onion panel's discussion:


In The Know: Teenagers and Alcohol);

"Drunken Fights and Digital Photos; We're Going to Fight, Fight, Fight at Iowa!" April 13, 2009 ("Unlike the out-of-sight, out-of-mind -- and out of the media -- consequences of alcohol abuse noted in this blog entry's lead, fights inside, and immediately outside, of bars can be witnessed by police and pedestrians and photographed by anyone with a digital camera. They are, therefore, much harder to ignore.");

"Bulls, Bars and Brawls; Red Bull: 'the non-stop party-animal's hot secret,'" May 7, 2009 ("'[The death of a] student who died on a nightclub dance floor [around 3:00 a.m.] . . . may have been triggered by caffeine in the Red Bull she had been drinking . . . around four cans . . . and several VKs - a vodka based drink which also contains caffeine . . . despite efforts from staff and paramedics to revive her.' . . . I've never thought that 'educating' college students with regard to the potentially adverse consequences of alcohol abuse would do much to slow down those youngsters determined to expend their new-found "freedom" on drunkenness. . . . I do hope, however, that to the extent we are trying to provide some useful guidance that at least some mention is being made of 'energy drinks,' how they interact with alcohol, and what the consequences of that interaction can be.");

"UI's AA: Alcohol and Athletics; Alcohol, Athletics and the Inevitability of the Avoidance of Responsibility,"
June 28, 2009 ("We have a serious problem right here in River City, and I've finally and reluctantly come to the conclusion that nothing effective will ever be done about it. I'm referring to the consequences that flow from alcohol abuse by college students, athletes and non-athletes alike. . . . In fairness to the football program . . . the coaches would like to be able to avoid the adverse . . . publicity that comes with the criminal records of their players. . . . [I]t's possible that it would be worthwhile for them to put even more emphasis on knowing more about [their recruits'] . . . anti-social records . . . before they are brought to Iowa City. There are obvious limits to what any athletic program can do to reverse . . . an 'I'm so special the rules don't apply to me' sense of entitlement already firmly ingrained in a 17-or-18-year-old.");

"Some Solutions to College Binge Drinking; More on Binge Drinking -- With Some Suggestions for Solutions," July 2, 2009 ("[I]t turns out Iowa City's binge drinking problem really is both the creation and the responsibility of the University of Iowa -- although it also needs the support of the broader community. Binge drinking was not caused by the 21-only Iowa (and national) law, and it cannot be solved by lowering the age to 18. As I have argued over the years, a little research on the Internet should provide far more solutions than we've ever tried. . . . If we have not made significant strides in resolving the problem -- and we have not -- it turns out that is not because there are no potential solutions available. Since that's not the reason, I will leave it to others to speculate as to what the reasons may be.");

"Alcohol's Impact on Iowa City; Police Toss Bar Closing Recommendation to Council; Loh Talking Tough," July 24, 2009 ("Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine has made a radical proposal to the City Council: don't continue to grant liquor licenses to bars that consistently flout the law. What a concept! . . . Perhaps most impressive to me is Provost Loh's reference to some metrics for measuring 'success': alcohol-related dropouts and emergency room admissions, and blood alcohol levels in students arrested and tested. There's really no substitute for the business adage 'you get what you measure.'");

"UI Has a Drinking Problem; I'll Drink to That," November 18, 2009 ("[Last week a] Drake student with a blood alcohol level of 0.5 . . . 'nearly died' from alcohol poisoning. . . . Students will die -- whether in hospitals from alcohol poisoning, falls from buildings, choking on their own vomit, fights with or without guns, or freezing in an Iowa winter snow drift after passing out. We just don't know who or when. Students will be raped -- or as Loh and Rocklin prefer to call it, suffer an 'unwanted sexual experience.' We just don't know who, or when, or whether it will ever be reported. UI administrators will continue to suffer -- although by comparison with the students, in far less dramatic ways -- as a result. We just don't know who and when. . . . We may not need a Carrie Nation swinging her hatchet at bars and barrels of whiskey, but we do need someone with an equivalent focus, will and political courage if we're ever going to do anything meaningful about these problems. . . . Like the fellow who saw a billboard that said, 'Drink Canada Dry,' and went up there to try to do it, Iowa's students are going to continue to binge drink and they, and all the rest of us, will continue to pay the heavy, heavy consequences.")

For more on the related issues regarding the often-alcohol-induced criminal behavior of football players, see

"Hawkeyes' Criminal Record Lengthens," February 25, 2008 ("Shame on us, if a part of the reason they have become that way is because the adults in their lives have contributed to these young men's belief that skilled athletes are entitled to special treatment; a culture and law of their own; second, third, fourth and fifth chances; a wink and a nod from coaches, high school principals, and judges -- so long as they can contribute to winning teams. That doesn't excuse college athletes' behavior, but it does require us to think about the extent to which it is we who have at least contributed to the creation of the problem we confront -- from Little League through professional sports -- including right here in Hawkeye land.");

"Sexual Assaults, Athletics and the Academy; The Academy and Football: Rape and Risk Management," January 9, 2009 (it turns out that athletes' sexual assaults are sufficiently common to warrant a commercial firm's offer of training for educational administrators regarding ways to minimize the public relations damage; "[There] is a recent story out of California that also involved two football players and an unconscious young woman. . . . [I]n the California case the football players have eased the task of the prosecution somewhat by providing a videotape of their alleged crime. The primary difference between the two cases, aside from the videotaping, is that the California football players are in jail on $100,000 bond, the former Iowa players (although charged) were permitted to transfer to other schools where they are continuing to play football.");

and see the all-inclusive Web site, Nicholas Johnson, "University of Iowa Sexual Assault Controversy -- 2007-08," August 9, 2008, et seq.

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2 comments:

Jim Jacobson said...

Right on the nose, Nick. It's why we "townies" stay out of downtown on the weekends. It's a zoo.

John Neff said...

My views on the advantages and disadvantages of a 21 only ordinance are

Advantages
1. There would be a substantial reduction in the number of obnoxious drunks in the downtown zone with a proportionate reduction in the number of assaults and arrests.
2. The probability of an alcohol related fatality would be reduced in the downtown zone.
3. Under favorable circumstances there might be a reduction in the demand on police resources.

Disadvantages
1. The underage drinking will be relocated to the UI campus, private residences and outdoor venues during warm weather.
2. There will be an increased risk of injury or fatality caused by increased drunk driving.
3. The probability of an alcohol related fatality will be increased outside the downtown zone where an increased response time is an aggravating factor.
4. Under unfavorable circumstances there could be an increased demand on police resources (the UI would be forced to hire more police officers).
5. Economic losses include closing of the larger bars, loss of jobs, tax revenues and a probably fatal loss of venues for live entertainment.

It is possible that some members of the city council are seriously considering adopting a 21 only ordinance sometime next summer. I hope before they make up their minds that do a critical review of the advantages and disadvantages.