Survey says alcohol abuse is improving at local university - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Survey says alcohol abuse is improving at local university (SURVEY INCLUDED)

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Menomonie (WQOW)- Alcohol abuse is a big problem in Wisconsin and a local university has seen that first hand.  UW-Stout has lost a number of students because of excessive drinking but it's doing something to stop it.

"It takes a community, it takes a village to address this problem," says Joan Thomas, who serves as the Dean of Students at UW-Stout.

Eight students have died at UW-Stout since 2007 and they all have one thing in common, alcohol was involved.

"We actually had a student who was a pedestrian hit by another student who was driving a car," Thomas remembers.  "We had three in the fire.  We had a snowmobile accident."

So UW-Stout has tried to cut down on student alcohol abuse and new survey results show it's working.  Thursday has traditionally been one of the biggest drinking nights for students, so UW-Stout added more Friday classes to keep kids from staying out too late.

"I got a lot of pushback on this.  We had a pretty interesting senate meeting that night.  I said well try this on for size.  You are going to tell your first employer that you can't come to work on a Friday because you have to get drunk on Thursday.  I said just try that out and see how it works for you," laughs UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen.

UW-Stout has also been paying Menomonie police $20,000 a year to break up house parties that get out of control.

"There are a few house parties that have been caught quite frequently but overall they are cracking down and the number is reducing," explains UW-Stout Sophomore Andrew Busse.

"I try to avoid them just because of that reason and I don't want to put myself in a situation because I'm older and 21 where I get a supplying to minors ticket," adds UW-Stout Senior Michael Morgan.

Survey results have just come in this week on student drinking habits.

UW-Stout says 875 students took part in the survey and while Stout is still above the national average in many of the categories relating to alcohol abuse, the results are getting better.

UW-Stout says the average number of drinks in a week has declined from about 11 to 9 since 2007.  Students who've chosen not to drink at all has nearly doubled since 2005; and drinking citations have gone down from more than 800 in 2010 to about 650 last year.  All are trends heading in the right direction.

"Overall it just seems like they're getting a lot stricter with their program and it's getting a lot more thorough," Busse points out.

"I think we are picking away at the problem and I think we've made some progress.  We won't solve it for Wisconsin.  We won't solve it for Menomonie," explains Sorensen.  "But we are doing our part and having a nice impact on the issue right now."

Click here to see the survey results

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