Changing Alcohol Culture on College Campuses

Topics: Alcohol and Drug Use, Student Health and Wellness, Student Affairs

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This report examines student affairs professionals’ approaches to changing the way that college students think about and interact with alcohol. Strategies include educational programming about the impact of alcohol on the body, risk-management tactics about drinking, and bystander intervention programs.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. Directors of wellness centers and offices of alcohol and other drugs describe a campus drinking culture that centers on a “work hard, play hard” mentality that students use to manage anxiety and relax on the weekends, which can lead to high-risk drinking behaviors.

    2. Contacts recommend adapting delivery of the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program to a group format in order to have a more widespread effect on campus culture.

    3. Staff in alcohol and other drug offices at profiled institutions implement risk-management strategies in addition to preventative and educational programming.

    4. Contacts leverage students’ social capital and leadership skills to develop bystander intervention and peer education programs.

    5. Student affairs professionals recommend that pre-matriculation alcohol education programs be interactive and discuss topics in addition to alcohol.

    6. Directors of wellness centers, student health offices, and alcohol and other drug offices conduct surveys, offer pre-tests and post-tests, and host focus groups to assess alcohol use and student response to programs.