NDSU drug, alcohol council announces mobile phone app to combat high-risk drinking
North Dakota State University's council to combat high-risk drinking took community suggestions and announced the launch of a mobile phone application at a town hall on Tuesday evening.
North Dakota State University’s council to combat high-risk drinking took community suggestions and announced the launch of a mobile phone application at a town hall on Tuesday evening.
The NDSU President’s Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs is a group of faculty, staff and students that was formed in 2007. Its most recent town hall before Tuesday was in 2012.
The app that the council announced, which was built over the past 18 months by Fargo-based software company Myriad Mobile, is called “What’s Your Buzz?” It provides one way for students to judge whether they can safely drive.
After typing in their gender and weight, users add what they’ve had to drink and when they drank. Based on that information, the app provides a sober countdown, as well as a taxi finder.
“It doesn’t take the place of common sense,” said Erika Beseler Thompson, assistant director of student success programs.
But it speaks the current language of the students, so it has potential, she said. “We’ve never tried anything like this,” she said. “It could be powerful.”
Student Katie Dauwen, who is on the council, said she’s told 10 students about the app who were excited to try it.
Anyone can download the app on Google Play, and soon on Apple iTunes. It will be available and marketed to all 11 campuses of the North Dakota University System.
Pot, drinking and driving
Several previously released facts were reiterated at the town hall, including promising news about students’ drinking and driving choices, and how many smoke marijuana.
Audience members at the previous town hall were concerned with marijuana use, but that is on the decline, Dauwen said.
The number of students who reported smoking marijuana in the past 30 days declined to 9.5 percent in 2012 from 11.4 percent in 2010, according to the 2012 CORE Survey. The more recent number is almost 10 percentage points lower than the national average.
And students who reported choosing to drive under the influence dropped by half, Thompson said.
In 2005, 45.8 percent of students said they had driven under the influence in the past year. That number was down to 24.1 percent in 2012.
But Thompson said the rates of consumption and “heavy episodic drinking” among NDSU students remain consistent. There has been little variation in those measures since NDSU started collecting the data in 2001, she said.
Binge drinking in the past two weeks was reported by more than 50 percent of NDSU students, which is about 10 percentage points above the national average, according to the 2012 data.
Community members, including elected officials and law enforcement officers, also voiced many concerns related to student alcohol consumption at the town hall.
Their concerns included drinking and driving, a lack of late-night transportation, pre-gaming or pre-drinking, and the drinking culture overall.
The audience also suggested possible solutions, such as running late-night buses from downtown to campus, educating faculty about NDSU’s drinking problems and immediately connecting freshmen to alternatives.
The Campus Live program, which sponsors alcohol-free late-night events for NDSU students, drew 22,000 students in 2013-14, student Jasper Asplin said. The council wants to make those events happen on a weekly basis so that they are easy for students to remember.
Campus Live received permanent funding from President Dean Bresciani this year, Asplin said.