By Jacob Mathias
City police have partnered with UWSP in an effort to promote responsible drinking habits by college students.
The Safe University Community Project, or Safe Point, aims to reduce dangerous alcohol use and minimize community concerns. The project focuses on building a sense of community between students and neighbors, promoting safety at off-campus parties and increasing enforcement of alcohol-related laws.
“If students choose to be party goers or party throwers, we want them to do so safely,” said UWSP Dean of Students Troy Seppelt. “We are focused on reducing the risks of alcohol-related problems, both personal and legal, as well as promoting safer events and respectful community membership.”
The university has about 8,500 students; 5,100 of whom live off-campus, commute or attend online.
Seppert said the components of Safe Point include educating students about safe practice, increasing enforcement of existing laws and compliance checks and engaging students off-campus with community safety patrols.
“We have an incredible relationship with the Stevens Point Police Department,” said Seppelt.
In this vein, law enforcement has visited the homes of students in campus neighborhoods to educate residents about safe, legal party going and hosting. These visits are expected to increase as Safe Point takes a foothold. Compliance checks will also be made by police at business that serve and supply alcohol.
“Enforcement is needed. Equally important is education and support for our young people,” said Stevens Point Police Chief Marty Skibba.
The SPPD is also increasing their presence in campus neighborhoods enhance visibility, relationship building and neighborhood safety, Skibba said. Officers will report data on their encounters during neighborhood patrols to both the university and SPPD.
“You have these young individuals that are coming and going later in the evening,” Skibba said. “Windows are open all summer where it’s quite by 7 or 8 [in the evening], and when students return in the fall, it’s more of a boisterous crowd who is out much later than that.”
The university will work through its Student Government Association and campus leaders to spread the message and goals of Safe Point, Seppelt said. Student government leaders have also produced a video message to students, and will share Safe Point information on various communication channels.
“We are excited to work with the university and the City of Stevens Point on this student safety program, which covers key areas of concern including community and health,” said Katie Hansen, student body vice president.
More information on Safe Point can be found at www.uwsp.edu/safepoint, and includes information on legal and safe partying and hosting, emergency contacts, information on alcohol poisoning and safe transportation option.