CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
101 Jessup Hall
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0552; fax (319) 335-0558
Release: Sept. 17, 2002
Stepping Up wins renewal grant to continue efforts to reduce harmful effects
Stepping Up Project, a community/campus coalition to reduce the harmful effects
of excessive drinking, will continue its efforts begun in the fall of 1996
with a four-year, $466,729 grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
The local coalition, which includes members from Iowa City, Coralville,
Johnson County and the University of Iowa, is one of several "town-gown"
coalitions participating in a national program called "A Matter of Degree:
The National Effort to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Among College Students."
The initiative is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered
by the American Medical Association.
"On behalf of the University of Iowa, I thank The Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation for this generous and much-needed support for a program of utmost
importance to our students and their future," said University of Iowa
President Willard L. "Sandy" Boyd.
"This renewal grant is a tremendous vote of confidence that our partners
at RWJF and the AMA believe we are making progress," said Carolyn Cavitt,
a retired Iowa City stockbroker who chairs the Stepping Up Project executive
committee. "It is also an acknowledgement that our efforts must continue
because our work is not finished. Students and others who drink too much continue
to harm other students and members of our community by interrupting their
studies, assaulting them physically and sexually, damaging other people's
property, and injuring others by driving while intoxicated. That simply is
"Our goal is to balance the rights of adults who drink responsibly
with everyone's right to a safe and healthy environment in which to live,
work, study and have fun," she added.
Sarah Hansen wrote the renewal grant application. Hansen is coordinator
of Health Iowa, the health promotion branch of the university's Student Health
Service. Health Iowa and Student Health staff members also wrote the original
Stepping Up grant application.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants for the "A Matter of Degree"
program are intended to allow town-gown coalitions to use an "environmental
approach" to reducing the harmful effects of excessive or high-risk drinking.
The environmental approach acknowledges that education, treatment, and prevention
programs are necessary but not wholly sufficient approaches to reducing the
harmful effects of excessive drinking. Changes must also be made in a community's
physical, social, economic and legal environment.
"Stepping Up is trying to change the environment in our community in
two major ways," Cavitt noted. "We are working with students and
others to increase the number and variety of late-night social events that
are not centered on alcohol. And we are pursuing policy changes aimed at reducing
the easy accessibility of cheap alcohol in our community."
In the first six years of its existence, Stepping Up provided funding for
dozens of late-night social events for UI students, including:
* "Nightgames," a regular event through which students can use
the recreational facilities and equipment at the UI Field House until 2
* "Up All Night," a residence hall program for late night study
sessions, pizza parties, and a new event planned this year for a late night
swim at City Park swimming pool for residents of Mayflower and Parklawn
* An alcohol-free tailgate parking lot at Hawkeye football games.
In addition, Stepping Up has supported efforts by the Iowa City City Council
to amend the disorderly house ordinance, to enforce the minimum legal drinking
age, to pass new ordinances placing limits on drink specials. The coalition
has also urged the City Council to consider an ordinance that would keep underage
people out of bars.
During that same time, the UI also took a number of actions aimed at reducing
the harmful effects of excessive drinking. Those included university-funded
late-night social events, including reduced price tickets for Planet X, an
entertainment business located in the Old Capitol Mall near the UI campus,
and jazz performances by UI music students at Uptown Bill's Small Mall. The
UI has also stepped up enforcement of the policy against underage drinking
for UI students participating in orientation; refused to renew an athletic
department contract with Miller Brewing Company; restricted alcohol service
in social fraternities; and banned alcohol and tobacco from the entire residence
system. In addition, this fall the Office of the Vice President for Student
Services is sending letters to the parents of UI students arrested for possession
of alcohol under the legal age.
"Our greatest successes have been the result of raising our community's
awareness of the problems that excessive drinkers cause for all of us,"
Cavitt noted. "We are proud to have played a role in keeping the historic
Englert Theatre from becoming another bar. Likewise, we are proud to have
helped in the effort that kept Pearson's Drug Store from becoming a liquor
store. Of course, the Englert Committee and the Northside Neighborhood Association
deserve the lion's share of the credit for community activism in those high-profile
cases. We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate on making our
community a vibrant, inviting environment for people of all ages."
The Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation's
largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates
its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access
to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people
with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles;
and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse
-- tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.