VCU was one of six Virginia colleges chosen to receive a grant to help combat underage drinking around campus this school year. The university has received $9,000 for Operation Undergrad, a grant through the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The grant is given to colleges and universities that have a detailed plan to combat underage drinking on their campuses. Jennifer Farinholt, the education coordinator at Virginia ABC, said the grant has been around for 10 years and is also meant to “protect the public safety.”
Virginia ABC has seen in a decrease in high-risk drinking, Farinholt said. All participants must give a final year-end report detailing how they spent the grant funds and the quantifiable impact that it had on campus. The VCU Police Department will submit pertinent statistics such as public intoxication arrests and DUIs to Virginia ABC at the end of the year.
According to a press release by Virginia ABC, VCU’s grant was pitched to “Producing educational media and organize forums for guest speakers to promote safe alternatives to underage drinking in the campus community; increase police patrols and response using social media.”
VCU PD spent time during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semester fulfilling their mission for the grant.
VCU PD have been attempting more student outreach programs this year. The department has hosted several Rape Aggression Defense classes, posted helpful tips such as having a designated driver on Superbowl Sunday and is currently planning to have a responsible drinking informational event with VCU fraternities and sororities.
“Education is a big part of this grant,” said Christopher Preuss, assistant chief of VCU Police. “It’s important to get the word out, not only about our enforcement efforts, but about what alcohol does to you.”
Additionally, Preuss said the grant has helped to pay overtime fees for the VCU PD to patrol the campus and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The department plans to use the remaining funds to combat underage drinking and keep VCU students and its neighbors safe.
“We want students to have the best of both worlds,” Preuss said. “College should be enjoyable and fun for students, but there is also personal responsibility that comes with this stage in life. We certainly don’t want anyone to get hurt and that is our number one concern.”