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Thursday, September 30, 2010

JMU has a "silver bullet" but does not use it. WHY?

What would motivate JMU students to change their alcohol use behavior? Is there a "silver bullet"?  As it turns out this issue has been put to the students directly. In a JMU research survey students were asked:
  • What might make you less likely to drink excessively and engage in risky behavior?
 The Answer:   33.3%,  answered that "suspension" makes students less likely to drink.

The students were asked another question:
  • What might make your friends less likely to drink excessively and engage in risky behavior?
The Answer:   34.4% answered that "suspension" makes their friends less likely to drink.

( see "Alcohol and Drug Use Among James Madison University Students" by Laurie Gabriele, research assistant, The Office of Substance Abuse Research, JMU 2008.(available at the JMU web site)

The students have identified the "silver bullet"- suspension.  JMU has control over the most motivating factor to change student behavior and the negative alcohol culture.  Suspend students from JMU for a semester when they commit alcohol misconduct.  According to the report from JMU Judicial Affairs, suspension is an infrequent sanction (see earlier blog post- JMU "Three Strikes" policy and the data).

WHY has JMU not used suspension in a more direct and frequent manner when it seems clear that the students have identified this sanction as the one most likely to impact their own and other students choices to engage in alcohol use and risky behavior?

  • I suggest one reason is that the JMU administration (which controls the "Three Strikes" policy and other policy dealing with alcohol and drug use) is part of the negative alcohol culture and not able to change their paradigm to impact real change
  • Others have also suggested to me to "follow the money" and see where the alcohol industry has invested in JMU and who is making money by maintaining the negative alcohol culture. (remember the statistic: College students spend  $5.5 billion dollars a year on alcohol- from "Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses, by Henry Wechsler and Bernice Wuethrich, 202 Rodale)

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