UMKC not so dry after all …But campus alcohol consumption trails Missouri average

Luke Harman

UMKC has been a dry campus since it joined the University of Missouri System in 1963.

“Dry campus” is a term used for the banning of alcohol at colleges and universities, regardless of a student’s age or intention to consume elsewhere.

Counseling Center clinical social worker Dale Voigt-Catlin said UMKC is just below the state average in alcohol consumption of the 20 Missouri colleges and universities who are members of the Partners in Prevention (PIP) coalition, which includes both wet and dry campuses.

The percentage of students who have consumed alcohol in the past year tallies at 75.85 percent, while PIP schools averaged 77.85 percent.

Additionally, among students who drink, the percetnage who binge drink at UMKC is well below the PIP average of 41.8 percent.

However, UMKC’s binge drinking incidence rate of 33.4 is still a cause for concern for the center as they work to “considerably lower the figure through prevention efforts,” Voigt-Catlin said.

Alcohol consultations are free to students on campus. The Counseling Center works with approximately 70 students per academic year within a broad-ranging social scope.

The range of issues related to alcohol can include alcohol abuse, dependency and addiction as well as cultural and family issues. Referrals for alcohol abuse can be made by faculty, fraternity and sorority members, Athletics, for conduct violations, by residential life and even self-referrals.

UMKC Housing alcohol policies are outlined throughout rental contracts with students and other members residing in university-run housing on the UMKC campus.

Housing policies on “Alcohol and Other Drugs” are enforced to promote individual responsibility and substance-free living.

All students who possess alcohol in the building, are in the same room as alcohol, enter the complex intoxicated or create a disturbance are subject to judicial sanctions.

Residential Life staff members are encouraged to contact campus police in case any intoxicated parties are unable to conduct themselves in a healthy and safe manner. Precautionary measures even cover online forums such as Facebook and MySpace in the event that pictures are posted displaying prohibited behavior taking place in any of the complexes, as outlined on the UMKC website.

While the foundations for a “zero tolerance” system are in place within UMKC Housing, the majority of the alcohol consultation referrals come from the residential life program, Voigt-Catlin said.

“We get referrals from all three residential programs at Oak Street, Johnson Hall and Oak Place Apartments.”

Most referrals to the Counseling Center are first-year and second-year students for policy violations, but Voigt-Catlin warns that students who struggle with alcohol problems come from all age groups.

With an estimated 1,380 students living on-campus in fall 2011, alcohol related activity on campus is an issue for the Counseling Center, with the average number of drinks per week that students consume totaling 4.62 (PIP 6.97).

Almost 25 percent of UMKC students do not drink alcohol and many others drink in a “light manner,” said Counseling, Health and Testing Center Director, Marita Barkis, Ph.D.

Counseling Center activities like the “Safe Spring Break” week provide information on safe alcohol consumption, poisoning and fun events without alcohol to “help students make more informed choices of their own,” Barkis said.

Although many students disregard the dry campus policy, UMKC is a shade dryer than some of the other 20 state colleges and universities that make up the Partners in Prevention coalition.

Perhaps UMKC is not a dry campus, but an unofficial “Dry Campus Light.”

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