College And Alcohol

.. he rules and regulations-formal as well as informal-and the environment that surround those decisions. (9)Adapted from James F. Mosher, speech at the FIPSE New Grantee Training Institute, February 1993. (10)Adapted from James F.

Mosher, speech at the FIPSE New Grantee Training Institute, February 1993. Prevention is more likely to be successful when efforts directed at altering individual behavior operate in tandem with those directed at altering the environment. By moving away from a singular focus that tends to blame individual drinkers, we can look to broader influences in our environments that contribute both to individual and community alcohol problems.(11) Students making the transition to adulthood often live in a learning environment that supports experimentation and limits adult responsibility. Not surprisingly, many experiment with alcohol, drink heavily, and are at high risk for alcohol-related problems.(12) But there are new ways for colleges and universities to both examine risk levels and make changes to mitigate those risks. How to Use This Guide Changes in institutional environments surrounding alcohol use require the broadest involvement of those affiliated with the institution, including students, parents, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of surrounding communities. The challenge for environmental prevention is generating and sustaining coalitions committed to making changes. A staff person cannot do it sitting in an office. The key to sustaining an interest in prevention is energizing new or existing campus organizations, especially students, to take an interest in prevention.

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Sometimes linking campus efforts with prevention activities in surrounding communities helps stimulate interest. Coordination with state and national organizations or activities can generate local interest. At most colleges and universities, alcohol problem prevention issues are not a very high priority. Often the limited resources available are bounded by time constraints of a specific government grant. To imbue prevention values within an institution, those concerned with prevention must become brokers-that is, they become agents for issues that are important and market them to campus resources.

You and your group can be agents for prevention by building and sustaining relationships with others who may have an interest in the numerous social, cultural, and economic issues surrounding alcohol use in our society. You can help them refocus those interests to support prevention efforts. This Guide helps you develop relationships through an information-driven process that draws the attention of campus members to those factors in your environment that contribute to alcohol-related problems. Use the exercises in the Guide to expand the circle of people interested in and committed to reducing specific alcohol-related problems at your school. The exercises give people a better understanding of what problems are occurring on campus. By examining campus and community environments, they learn where and when problems occur, which in turn helps them understand why problems occur.

If they understand the environmental factors influencing problems at their school, they then feel they know how to make changes to reduce those problems. Everyone is in charge of prevention. And prevention is not a program. Rather, it is an informed commitment. The process described in the Guide gives you the information you need to generate that commitment on your campus. (11)James F.

Mosher and David H. Jernigan, New Directions in Alcohol Policy, Annual Review of Public Health, 10 (1989): 245-79. (12)Henry Wechsler and Nancy Isaac, Alcohol and the College Freshman: Binge Drinking and Associated Problems (Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 1991), pp. 21-25. Problem-Oriented Prevention Some problems related to alcohol use reported by U.S.

college students: (13) * Missed classes * Performed poorly on a test * Had hangover * Been hurt or injured * Fights or arguments * Trouble with authorities * Damaged property * Taking sexual advantage * Drinking and driving Problem-oriented prevention targets attention and action on specific consequences of alcohol use. College administrators and students report a range of alcohol-related problems at colleges and universities. National surveys recount aggregate problem levels (see sidebar). But individual campuses may differ based on factors such as the mean age of the student body, employment status, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and extent of fraternity/sorority involvement. The Guide includes a series of information collection exercises that will help you define specific problems at your institution and understand your own culture of alcohol use and adverse consequences. Problem-oriented prevention borrows the SARA method (scanning, analysis, response, assessment), a law enforcement community policing technique growing in popularity.

This method helps cops move from merely responding to incidents in an isolated manner to analyzing underlying problems and response options in collaboration with community groups. SARA readily transfers to prevention efforts in a range of communities. For colleges and universities, it uses campus collaboration and information as a way to develop and monitor problem reduction strategies in an understandable process. In scanning you look beyond immediate incidents or issues to determine if they are part of a broader problem. If so, you then engage in problem analysis, through the gathering of information from a wide variety of sources, to determine not only the nature and scope of the problems but also the resources to help solve the problem.

You are then ready to implement a response intended to provide long-range solutions to underlying problems. Then you assess whether your strategy has been successful and make any necessary changes following the same approach. (13)Presley, Meilman, and Lyerla, op. Cit., pp.20-24. SARA Scanning Develop a campus profile Look around Have conversations Recruit allies Analysis Identify information needs Collect information Define problems Response Decide what to do Implement actions to reduce problems Assessment Collect information on problem indicators Measure impact of responses Reassess priorities Scanning Scanning is both the first step in understanding the nature of alcohol use and adverse consequences and a way to identify potential areas of support for prevention efforts.

Scanning helps you think about your institution’s environment from a risk indicator perspective. Most problems related to alcohol use are not identified as such until they attain community visibility. Indicators of alcohol problems often go unnoticed until the problems become so severe that they can no longer be ignored. But campuses don’t have to wait for a riot-like the one during Rancho Chico Days, involving students from Chico State University in California, or a tragedy like the alcohol poisoning death of a University of Florida student-to take a look at the environment to see what kinds of problems exist. Scanning is something most of us do everyday.

We walk around to get a sense of what a community is like. What are the issues for community members surrounding alcohol use and adverse consequences? We talk to people, maybe take some photographs or use a video camera to record information. What kinds of problems are we seeing out there? Where do we start? Enlisting Allies While one person could scan a campus, these exercises are a good way to get others involved. Scanning is easy, interesting, and even entertaining. Group members can compare impressions and information gained through scanning to gauge preliminary agreement on problems and contributing factors.

Scanning exercises can help you develop a core group of interested individuals and generate discussion on your campus by highlighting alcohol issues in the environment. Forms for the following exercises are included in Appendix A. Scanning Exercise A-1 A Quick Profile, helps you develop a quick profile of your campus to highlight environmental factors that may be contributing to alcohol use and adverse consequences. You and members of your group note your impressions and opinions at your institution. This exercise helps initiate discussion and generate interest in prevention. A-2 Looking Around, gets your group out and about on your campus and in surrounding communities to look for problem indicators.

You record what you see when looking at your campus and community and compare your impressions with others in your group. Once you and your group have developed some impressions of problems related to alcohol use at your school, a simple way to find out what other people think is to talk with them. Not only will conversations help you confirm or negate your impressions, they will also help you identify potential allies and opponents, as well as resources for prevention efforts. A-3 Having Conversations, lists those on campus who are both potential allies and sources of information. Talk to some or all of these people.

For some conversations you might want to make an appointment. Other conversations might be more informal, such as at receptions, around a cafeteria table, or in student lounges. Though you want to get opinions about issues that you and your group think are important, be attentive for other issues raised. You don’t always need to talk to the person in charge. Those in the so-called trenches of campus life can often provide valuable insights into alcohol use and adverse consequences.

Scanning Yields Preliminary Information It’s important to talk to a variety of people on campus. You want to get a representative picture of widely held values on your campus regarding alcohol use and measures to reduce problems. Go where students congregate and talk to them at random. Scanning doesn’t have to be overly formal. Use conversations to identify existing campus information resources on alcohol- related problems and to encourage others to get involved with your group.

For example, residence life advisors at one college kept routine records of incidents, such as rowdy behavior and curfew violations. While many problems were alcohol- related, it wasn’t mentioned unless the incident was directly related to drinking. Minor changes in the way incidents were recorded resulted in a clearer understanding of the role of alcohol in residence hall problems, suggesting points for intervention. You may find that others who collect campus information-such as campus security and health services-can make small changes in the way they record information that will help your efforts. Information gained from scanning exercises serves multiple purposes.

You and your group can: *identify specific problems on your campus; *discover high-risk drinking environments on your campus and in your community; *enlist new allies by using information to establish relationships with a cadre of students, faculty, and campus officials; and *stimulate informed consideration of problems and contributing environmental factors on campus. However scanning usually doesn’t provide you with enough information to understand fully the nature of the problems. Further analysis is often necessary for your campus to agree on problem definition. Scanning helps narrow the field of interest by directing your attention to important issues on your campus. A picture is worth a thousand words. Recruit student photographers and cinematographers to document the environment. Pictures or videos of on- and off- campus alcohol outlets, social events, billboards, and other activities can describe eloquently the alcohol environment on your campus.

Use photos and videos to raise environmental issues and generate campus dialogue about environmental messages. Look around and talk to people. Students complain that there is nothing to do when they are not studying or in class, and cite boredom and stress as reasons for drinking. One way to determine opportunities for socializing is through a quick scan of the campus newspaper and bulletin boards to see what types of activities are advertised and promoted. Things to look for are extracurricular activities that are alcohol-related, such as student night drink specials at local taverns, and those that are not, such as lectures, concerts, film festivals, or sports activities. Are students’ perceptions of the campus environment correct? Is more information needed before changes can occur? Make it easy: Ask residence hall advisors to place one check mark for an incident report if the perpetrator had been drinking, two check marks if the victim had been drinking.

Three check marks signify that both had been drinking. Analysis Does your school do yearly quality-of-life surveys? Check to see if responses include problem indicators. Does your school conduct exit surveys or interviews with graduates or with those who leave before graduation? Garbology is like archeology. Trash and litter are physical evidence of human activities. Garbage and litter indicate what people are drinking, and where and when drinking occurs.

The goal of analysis is to collect accurate information on indicators of problems related to alcohol use. Indicators are measures of the nature, magnitude, or incidence of problems. Analysis provides you with information you need to understand environmental influences on alcohol use and adverse consequences on your campus. Use this information to formulate prevention strategies aimed at altering environments to reduce risks associated with drinking on your campus. Surveys of campus populations are a common way to collect problem information.

Other methods are less traditional. For example, counting the number of reported incidents of underage drinking in residence halls is one way to measure the magnitude of underage drinking on your campus. Another indicator of underage drinking is the number of beer cans discarded in trash bins at a residence hall for first-year students. Counting beer cans on different days can tell you when d Social Issues.