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How a College Town Became a Pioneer in Alcohol Risk Management

Linda Major

40-Year Anniversary Series: As RHI celebrates a 40-year anniversary in 2023, this interview returns to the early 1990s as Lincoln was challenged with alcohol-related harm and sought solutions. Over a period of four years, RHI’s president Jim Peters collaborated with Linda Major on several innovative programs that can serve as a model for other cities. Watch a presentation by Linda Major in RHI’s Webinar Library.  

Lincoln, Nebraska, became a pioneer in innovations in nighttime management and alcohol harm reduction. The formation of an advisory body, the Responsible Hospitality Council, ensured equitable representation from both the prevention and hospitality sectors. While server training was commonplace, a mandate for bar management training was not. Lincoln became the first city in the U.S. to require bar managers to be trained, based on research that suggested servers were more likely to apply intervention strategies if managers supported them. Guided district tours until closing time helped elevate policymakers into partners for change. Further, data-driven decision-making was facilitated by last drink data collected by a detox center; this information helped lead to education with venue owners and, if necessary, enforcement.  

As a college community, annual re-education of students is also required. Annual press conferences announcing the start of a “Wild Party Patrol” helped remind students to keep house parties under control. A combined effort to target formal social settings (i.e. licensed venues such as bars, clubs and restaurants) and informal social settings (i.e. house parties, Greek life events) helped create a holistic intervention model.

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Linda Major

Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Linda Major is retired from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, as the Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement. Major coordinated a comprehensive approach addressing high-risk behaviors on campus and in the community. In the latter role, she was responsible for advancing civic engagement through co-curricular leadership development and service-learning initiatives. Linda also served as project director for NU Directions. In this role, she was responsible for implementing a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan to reduce high-risk drinking among college students. The strategic plan, developed and guided by a campus/community coalition, was based on an environmental management approach.