CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
5 Old Capitol
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0557; fax (319) 335-0558
Stepping Up Project plans April 27 town meeting to get public input
on curbing binge drinking
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Stepping Up Project, a community/campus coalition
to curb binge drinking and its second-hand effects, is planning a town
meeting to share information about its activities and solicit community
input and support for those activities. The public is invited to attend
the meeting Monday, April 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at West High School.
The first hour of the town meeting will be in the West High LittleTheater
and will feature a short update on the Stepping Up Project, a preliminary
report on a community survey of perceptions and attitudes towards binge
drinking as well as support for specific policies to combat the problem
and an extended period of time for members of the public to ask questions
or provide their own comments about the issue.
During the second hour, participants will be invited to attend one of
four separate discussion groups to explore issues in greater depth. The
general topics for discussion will be enforcement of alcohol-related laws,
accessibility and availability of alcohol, social alternatives to alcohol-related
events, and outreach - what should be done to keep the community informed
of the issues.
"We invite everyone from the local community to attend the town
meeting and share their thoughts with us," said Carolyn Cavitt, an
Iowa City stockbroker who chairs the Stepping Up Project. "Our goal
is to bring people up to date on what the Stepping Up Project is all about
and to review the results of the community survey so we all have a better
idea of where we stand on the issue."
"We have a 40-member steering committee that has been looking at
this issue for the past year, so we have some ideas about how to approach
it, but we are also eager to hear from others in the community," Cavitt
said. "It's just common sense that we will need community support
for the policy initiatives we propose."
The results of the community survey will be presented by Arthur Miller,
University of Iowa professor of political science and director of the Iowa
Social Science Institute, which has recently completed a random telephone
survey of 800 residents of Iowa City, Coralville and Johnson County.
Julie Phye, who is coordinator of the Stepping Up Project, explained
the purpose of the survey: "We believe it's important to know the
answers to some basic questions, such as 'Do members of the Iowa City and
Coralville communities believe there is a problem with binge drinking among
college students? Have they directly or indirectly experienced the second-hand
effects of binge drinking? If so, what kinds of initiatives do they support
in an effort to reduce those problems?'"
"Because the answers to the questions get right to the heart of
what the Stepping Up Project hopes to accomplish, the need for an accurate
picture of community perceptions and attitudes was recognized early in
the project," Phye said.
The open forum section of the meeting will feature panelists who can
respond to questions and comments from the audience. Members of the panel
will be Mary Sue Coleman, UI President; Dale Helling, assistant city manager
for Iowa City; Allison Miller, former UI Student Government president;
Art Schut, director of MECCA (the Mid Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse),
Jim Clayton of the Iowa City Downtown Association, and Jodie Theobald of
the Iowa City Schools Districtwide Parents' Organization.
High school students will serve as greeters for the event and will offer
participants an opportunity to sign up to receive the Stepping Up Project
community newsletter and to review and sign pledge cards that explain the
coalition's mission and goals.
In addition, West High's 1440 Leadership Group will be collecting food
items to donate to the Iowa City Crisis Center. Items can be dropped off
in a box at the entrance to the meeting.
The Stepping Up Project is one of six community/university coalitions
participating in a national program, "A Matter of Degree: Reducing
High-Risk Drinking Among College Students." The initiative is funded
by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J., the nation's largest
health care philanthropy and administered by the American Medical Association.
Other participating coalitions are associated with the University of Vermont,
the University of Colorado-Boulder; the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
the University of Delaware and Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.
Each community/university coalition was awarded a five-year, $700,000
grant to plan a comprehensive effort to reduce binge drinking and the "second-hand"
effects of binge drinking - the problems that binge drinkers cause for