By Allison Groupp
The University at Albany held a “buyback” event of student’s fake IDs in an effort to reduce student underage drinking.
IDs were exchanged for $20 gift cards to the Campus Bookstore in the campus center lobby on the afternoon of October 2nd.
The gift cards were purchased by the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research at UAlbany.
“The great thing about the program is that it’s completely anonymous and with no incrimination for students,'' said Natalie Sumski, College Prevention Coordinator at UAlbany. “The IDs are put into a box which will be handed over to the Albany Police Department and the DMV.”
Students spend between $75 and $100 on fake IDs according to Sumski. She hopes by giving some of that money back students will have a greater incentive to participate in the program.
FEDERAL AND STATE GRANTS
In 2006, UAlbany was awarded a $175,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to reduce high risk drinking and “communicate these messages to the University community, local businesses and other college campuses.”
In 2016, the DMV seized over 147 fake IDs in two months.
This follows the passage of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s grant of $2.5 million for 20 SUNY and CUNY schools to combat underage drinking and substance abuse.
UAlbany has been working in alliance with bars and taverns in the city of Albany to prevent underage drinking.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism names alcohol as the most abused drug on college campuses.
The event was part of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week which runs every October.
Dr. Dolores Cimini, director of Mental Health Services at UAlbany, said the city of Albany is geographically prone to alcohol use because of the amount of bars in the area and their proximity to the university.
This underage drinking problem is not unique to the UAlbany campus.
IT’S A FELONY
Abigail Gockel, a sophomore at UAlbany, said she is in full support of the card exchange program. “I work at The Recovery Room in Albany where we serve alcohol to a lot of students,” said Gockel. “It's hard to know if IDs are real or not.”
Gockel said she has seen an increase in young students drinking and worries it might affect her job if she serves alcohol to someone underage. The owner of the Recovery Room has the same fears for his business, said Gockel.
Using a fake ID in New York State is a felony and considered a criminal possession of a forged instrument by altering a government-issued identification.
Sumski said she hopes to continue the program to increase awareness and reduce student arrests and underage drinking.