This fall the university will be expanding B’Low Optimal, an alcohol intervention program that allows students who are caught drinking the option of taking a breathalyzer test to determine if their blood alcohol concentration is within the “optimal buzz” range.
B’Low Optimal is an expansion of the Optimal Buzz initiative created by Richard Reams, the associate director of counseling services. The initiative sanctioned an “optimal buzz” level for students between within .04 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .06 BAC. B’Low Optimal encourages student to drink below .08 BAC, in order to avoid a hearing with the Student Conduct Board.
The program began in 2013 by David Tuttle, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, in an effort to curb binge drinking.
“The B’Low Optimal program is another way to encourage students who drink responsibly to blow into a breathalyzer. If they’re within that range of .08 and below they won’t go to the Conduct Board,” Tuttle said.
The B’Low Optimal program was first targeted at first year students during its pilot stage but has since expanded campus-wide according to Melissa Flowers, director of residential life.
There are other alcohol-related rules that students should take into account when drinking, according to Flowers.
“There are a few caveats””the person whose room it is, the person whose alcohol it is, and if it’s hard alcohol, then it’s still a violation. Beer and wine are okay on this campus. Liquor, even if students are 21, is not allowed,” Flowers said.
Flowers describes other factors that students should keep in mind.
“Students can request to blow at any time, but if they are noticeably intoxicated, stumbling or slurring their words, then they are not permissible to participate.”
The Student Conduct Board is utilizing funds from alcohol or drug fines for the B’Low Optimal program, according to Tuttle.
“We’re giving out swag. So first year students are getting shirts, all the sophomores are getting cups that shows what a drink is and all the juniors and seniors are getting bottle openers,” Tuttle said.
A total of $9,700 has been spent on B’Low Optimal according to Tuttle. There are a total of eight breathalyzers across the campus that cost approximately $200 each, according to an assessment summary of B’Low Optimal written by Flowers on July 1, 2014.
Tuttle says that a video explaining the B’Low Optimal program will be shown to first year students at new student orientation.
The informational video states that “About two-thirds of Trinity first years drink and by graduation about 95% of Trinity seniors drink at least occasionally.”
Tuttle explains that Trinity recognizes that a percentage of students drink, and hopes to encourage safe drinking.
“Nothing drives me crazy more than when students say, “˜I know you all think that we shouldn’t drink.’ That isn’t even our philosophy,” Tuttle said. “We know that students drink and we want to keep our students safe. We want to teach them to drink in a responsible way.”