By Kyeland Jackson —
U of L students have a drinking problem, and campus police know it.
In the past five years, hundreds have been cited and dozens arrested for liquor-law violations. University of Louisville Assistant Chief of Police Kenneth Brown said students are the primary violators. To deter the problem, U of L relies on the Building Resilience in Campus Community Coalition – a program tailored to deter drinking on campus.
On a national level, alcohol plagues college students. A survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found more than half of college students drank in the past month of the report. NIAAA found almost 2,000 students between 18 and 24 die yearly from alcohol-related incidents. Twenty-five percent of students reported academic problems due to drinking and 20 percent qualified for alcohol use disorder.
Alcoholism at U of L is a benign issue for some students, but others recognize liquor’s impact.
“On a weekly basis, probably about 50 percent (of my friends drink),” sophomore Sarah Cardwell said. “I know a few people that have had to drop out because they party too much. I think it could be a problem, I mean if you’re having to drop out and you’re missing your classes because you party too much. Alcohol affects your health really bad, especially if you do it to much so, I think it’s a problem.”
“I just believe it depends on the person because it can be like a stress reliever for some people from like going through college and like life. It can be really stressful so drinking can help,” non-student Jessica Payne said. “But it just depends if you can control it or not. If you can’t control it then it is a problem. But if you can, then it’s really not.”
In the last five years, University of Louisville Police dealt students almost 1000 referrals and arrested around 70 for liquor-related violations. While the issue is present, some students don’t know how to identify and handle alcohol issues
“I don’t know anyone with drinking problems. I don’t know how to identify a drinking problem to be honest,” non-student Kendrick Rhodes said.
ULPD’s Brown said drug and alcohol education can deter liquor-law violations among students. That’s where BRICC comes in.
BRICC’s program began six years ago. The program focuses on primary prevention, utilizing policies and resources to increase resilience and lower high-risk drinking. Heather Parrino is the program’s manager.
“BRICC Coalition’s model is significant because we are utilizing a model from the National Institute of Health that is evidence-based and changes behavior,” Parrino said. “It is critical to involve both campus and community partners because this is not a ‘university’ issue. It is an ‘everybody’ issue. Alcohol and substances impact everyone including non-drinkers. It impacts families, children, students, seniors, communities, etc.”
The coalition employs a public health model to help write medical-amnesty law and serve training, full-time staff, programming, information and prevention resources to students.
Parrino said BRICC is Kentucky’s only alcohol prevention program housed in a university and boasts over 200 partners including Brown Forman, the Morton Center and Beam Suntory.
Upon its adoption at U of L, BRICC was promoted by former provost Shirley Willihnganz. Acting Provost Dale Billingsley’s office works alongside the program.
“My individual work with BRICC has been limited to the selection and implementation of AlcoholEDU/Haven as the first-stage instruction our entering students get in the management of alcohol and sexual assault,” Billingsley said. “As Heather’s report showed, that project has had some useful outcomes for individual students and for the university’s retention efforts.”
So far there has been 33 liquor-law violations on campus and 39 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. While BRICC’s prevention may have helped, alcohol-related problems still plague campuses.
“There’s too much people that drink,” Rhodes said. “I don’t think it’s going to become a big problem but every person matters, so any problem’s a problem.”
U of L junior Justin Puckett said college drinking is a case-by-case problem.
“I think it’s a yearly problem. It’s going to reoccur,” Puckett said. “I won’t say that there is a permanent solution because with every incoming class it’s going to restart. You’re a freshman in college, you want that freedom and party-ness. It’s all new and you just go crazy. You usually slow down, but some people don’t ever slow down. And yes, that is a problem. So i think it’s more of a case-to-case problem, because as soon as you fix it one year, you just kind of have to restart the next year.”
For Parrino, the job is personal. She envisions her daughters as future students.
“I love coming to work every day,” Parrino said. “I have adopted many of these students as my own and I want them to be resilient people when they graduate. It is so important that they learn that life is not about the degree, it is about the process of not giving up – continuing to bounce back. U of L is great now, but I want this to be the best university in the nation when they (her daughters) get here and I know that it will.”
Graphic by Mitchell Howes / The Louisville Cardinal
Graphic courtesy of BRICC / BRICC