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Friday, November 19, 2010

CORE Definition of High Risk Drinking Vs. JMU students definition

    The CORE Drug and Alcohol Survey was developed in the late 1980s by the US Department of Education and advisors from several universities and colleges. The survey is used by universities and colleges to determine the extent of substance use and abuse on their campuses. The survey is now administered by the CORE Institute at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale (SIUC). ( JMU results of the CORE survey are in an earlier post)
The Core  instrument defines "high-risk" drinking as having five or more drinks in one sitting at least once during a two week period. (High-risk drinking and "binge" drinking refer to the same behavior)  In the JMU Continuing Student Survey 2009 (see link: http://www.jmu.edu/ie/Surveys/CSS2009.pdf ) students were asked their definition of High risk drinking. Results are below.

Table 45 Definition of High Risk Drinking
                                2009( 2008/ 2007/ 2006)
6 to 8 drinks            30%(28%/29%/27%)
9 to 11 drinks          28%(30%/25%/27%)
12 or more drinks   22%(23%/24%/28%)
4 to 5 drinks            15%(15%/16%/15%)
1 to 3 drinks              5%( 4%/ 6%/ 4%)

If you add the 9-11 drinks and 12 or more drinks- 50% of the JMU students  surveyed think that it takes twice (or more) than the 4-5 drink limit to meet the definition of "high-risk" drinking.  Part of how the CORE survey developed the definition of 4-5 drinks is that it is the amount of alcohol that must be consumed for an average male to meet the legal definition of intoxicated and would result in Driving Under the Influence charge.  JMU students have an extremely  distorted definition of "high-risk" drinking that serves to encourage "high-risk" drinking and the negative alcohol culture.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reducing the Vulnerability to Alcohol-Related Tragedies at the College or University: Deadly Errors and Essential Actions

Reducing the Vulnerability to Alcohol-Related Tragedies at the College or University: Deadly Errors and Essential Actions by Thomas A. Workman, Ph.D. , University of Houston-Downtown ( see link at:

 This article identifies errors that universities make as they attempt to correct alcohol problems. I think JMU has made some of these errors. For example, error #1 " Addressing alcohol consumption without addressing the environment that produces, encourages and profits from the behavior".  In the text it notes the following:

"By far, the most popular approach is education. These
programs focus on teaching students, through peers, trained staff,
or on-line programs, about moderation and risk protection
strategies. Though research conducted for the NIAAA report has
shown that there is no evidence of effectiveness among these
programs in reducing alcohol-related problems or campus drinking
rates by campuses who use this strategy alone, the vast majority of
campuses continue to use education as the center of their
prevention efforts."

  JMU's efforts have been heavily focused on educational efforts  and lacking in the area of policy change and consistent enforcement.  The lack of use of suspension by judicial affairs is a clear area that needs to change by  JMU in both  policy and enforcement.

     Also Error #2 " Attempting change without involving all stakeholders." The article defines stake holders as follows:

"A “stakeholder” is an individual (or group) who is affected by
or affects the environment in some way. In the campus-community,
this includes everyone who is directly involved in the alcohol
culture -- student leaders, club officers, housing staff, judicial officers,
Greek leaders and organizers, athletes, coaches, and athletic
promoters, campus and community police, campus medical and
health promotion staff, faculty, student activities staff, academic
advisors, administrators, community leaders, emergency room personnel,
detoxification center staff, bar owners, alcohol distributors,
servers and waitstaff, landlords, off-campus students, and neighborhood

 In reviewing the JMU web site and documents there is not a group that meets this definition. There is a group called the Community Coalition Alcohol Abuse but it has a very low profile on the web site and it does not seem to have much influence on the change process. 

Error 4 " Not providing infrastructure to sustain the effort."  JMU's efforts seem disjointed and not a sustained comprehensive planned effort. The article notes:

"Many experts estimate that it may take as long as two full cycles
of students before an institution sees significant change. Even when
change does occur, ongoing maintenance of the environment and
student behavior is critical. Rather than trying to sustain the same
energy and effort of the grant project, campuses must institutionalize
their efforts, building collaboration, communication, data collection,
and strategic responses into the existing infrastructure"

 The efforts at JMU have not become institutionalized and the data collection on the BASICS program is lacking. 


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Case Example - University of Florida

As I look at the JMU's negative alcohol culture problem it strikes me that other Universities have had to deal with similar situations and may have some good ideas to follow. Below is a case example of the University of Florida. I have highlighted a part that talks about mandatory suspension. ( see link at: 


University of Florida

Reducing High-Risk Drinking Among College Students

  • University of Florida: Enrollment 51,725
  • City of Gainesville: 114,375
Founded in 1853, the University of Florida (UF), located in Gainesville, is a major, public, land-grant, research university. It is the state's oldest and most comprehensive university, and, with an enrollment of more than 50,000 full-time students, it is one of the largest universities in the United States.


In 1999, after the University of Florida–University of Tennessee home football game, an alcohol-related fight resulted in the death of two young adults. This event caused an outcry among many for UF to curb high-risk alcohol use. A combination of events led the university to realize a multifaceted, multilevel program was needed to address alcohol abuse among students.
In spring 2000 UF administration formed the Alcohol and Drug Education Policy Committee (ADEPC) to address students’ high-risk drinking and other drug use with the mission to “Create an environment that promotes student wellness and academic success by providing leadership and coordinating multidisciplinary efforts, in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of alcohol and other drug problems.” As a result of this committee’s recommendations a series of policy initiatives were implemented. In fall 2000 a parental notification policy went into effect so that in most cases a parent or legal guardian is notified by a university official if the parent’s or guardian’s under 21 child is transported to the hospital for an alcohol-related incident. That same year UF implemented a policy requiring a one-semester suspension for students convicted of driving under the influence on or off campus. In 2004, UF also banned the distribution of alcohol advertising and other promotional materials on campus, such as flyers from local bars and clubs.
In addition, in 2002 the University Athletic Association, Inc., passed a no-reentry policy during athletic contests and at entertainment events that limits spectator access to alcohol. In 2003 UF implemented a game day survey, which has been administered annually. Researchers identified the student age group that drank the most on game days, and it subsequently formed recommendations for the campus to provide more alcohol-free game day alternatives and designate specific tailgating areas, with a limit on the number of tailgating hours permitted.
“When Bernard Machen became UF’s president in January 2004 he took the issue of alcohol and drug use by students very seriously,” said Maureen Miller, coordinator for alcohol and other drug prevention, GatorWell Health Promotion Services.
“At that time we also held a town hall meeting facilitated by staff from the [U.S. Department of Education’s] Higher Education Center that included several key campus and community stakeholders and led to the formation of three subcommittees that met during the spring and summer 2005 semesters. These subcommittees created and provided a series of recommendations to President Machen. In fall 2005 he then formed the Community Alcohol Coalition. He chairs the coalition, which meets once a semester. Having key administration support especially from the president on down is a huge factor when addressing this issue,” Miller added.
Members of this coalition included community stakeholders who had attended the 2005 Higher Education Center–led town meeting and others from the surrounding community and local government. Also during 2005, President Machen pledged his support to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV,” which advocated eliminating alcohol advertising during National Collegiate Athletic Association sporting events. He also banned alcohol and tobacco sponsorship at the Rascal Flats concert and other venues taking place on the UF campus. In addition, he followed the recommendations for college and university presidents on alcohol and other drug abuse prevention outlined in the report of the Presidents Leadership Group, Be Vocal, Be Visible, Be Visionary: Recommendations for College and University Presidents on Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.
In addition, in an attempt to create a health promoting environment, UF launched a series of complementary initiatives. For example, interviews and other survey research with students discovered a widespread misconception that all UF students drink to excess. As a result, GatorWell Health Promotion Services began a health information campaign named “8 out of 10 UF Students Find a Drunk Person Less Attractive—Sober is Sexy.” The campaign sought to correct UF students’ perceptions of alcohol consumption, specifically that consuming alcohol or drinking excessively was not the norm.
In 2006, UF was awarded a U.S. Department of Education Grant to Prevent High-Risk Drinking or Violent Behavior Among College Students. The four grant goals included reducing the prevalence of high-risk drinking among first-year students, reducing the number of negative consequences related to alcohol use, decreasing the prevalence of high-risk drinking on game day, and changing the perception that alcohol facilitates sexual opportunities. Also in 2006, all students entering UF, including freshmen and transfer students, were required to complete an online alcohol education program prior to registering for spring semester classes.
As a result of multiple interventions, between 2004 and 2008, the UF high-risk drinking rate decreased by 19.8 percent.

Current Prevention Efforts

Prevention efforts at UF are evidence-based and guided by the social ecological model, as part of an overall comprehensive strategy. In 2009 UF was awarded a Models of Exemplary, Effective, and Promising Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse Prevention Programs on College Campuses grant from the U.S. Department of Education to further enhance its individual-, campus-, and community-level prevention efforts through the use of a social norms marketing campaign, a variety of on-campus policy changes, strong administrative leadership and support from the president’s office, and persistent enforcement.
“We work closely with the Alachua County Coalition-Partners in Prevention of Substance Abuse (PIPSA). When we were awarded the models program grant we used some of the funds to help support the town hall meeting that PIPSA holds annually. The PIPSA coalition received some grant funding and used it to help the Gainesville Police Department outfit a trailer as a safety ‘kiosk.’ Officers go out on Wednesday and Saturday nights, the heavy drinking nights, and look for students who may need help to keep them safe and give them assistance,” said Principal Investigator Virginia Dodd, who is an associate professor in the Department of Health Education & Behavior.
One of the successful policy initiatives the ADEPC focused on was a city of Gainesville ordinance prohibiting establishments with a certain number of serving underage patron violations from allowing 18- to 20-year-olds from entering the bar or club.
“If bars are cited a certain number of times for exceeding their capacity limits or for serving people under the age of 21 they lose the ability to admit 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds into their establishment after 9 o’clock at night. It was a very controversial policy. But at that time the ADEPC chairperson was a Gainesville city commissioner, so we worked with her, went to the hearings, sent letters, and did all that we could to support the ordinance,” said Miller. “This ordinance rewards establishments who follow the rules and restricts those who do not.”
“Recently we tried to get ‘ladies night’ drink specials discontinued but because of Florida state law we were not able to act locally. But we were able to use the city of Gainesville’s antidiscrimination ordinance to prevent establishments from offering free or discounted alcohol to someone based on their gender. Maureen met with the director of Gainesville’s Office of Equal Opportunity and presented him with fact sheets we had developed based on the information we learned from our research. As a result, establishments were notified to stop such promotions and it is now being enforced,” said Dodd.


“We evaluate our prevention efforts through a number of ways. Of course, we conduct a biennial review in compliance with federal regulations. We work closely with the University Police Department to track the number of on-campus driving under the influence offenses. We receive information from Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and the Counseling & Wellness Center to track the number of alcohol violations. We also work with Residence Life to track the number of hospital transports for alcohol or drug overdoses. Continuously monitoring these data and other problem indicators enables us to gauge problem levels and determine whether we are meeting our goals and objectives,” said Dodd.
UF also administers the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey to obtain information on student behaviors and problems. In addition, support from the Department of Education has enabled UF to collect qualitative data through focus groups, which has opened up other avenues for program development.
“For example, the College of Journalism and Communications has used the data we collected through focus groups and surveys. Students were assigned to develop a marketing campaign based on information Maureen and I shared. At the end of the semester each group presented their final product, treating us as though we were their clients. This experience provided us with a great deal of insight from the perspective of communication and marketing strategies, which is quite different from that of health education,” said Dodd.
One of UF’s latest campaign efforts is based on an idea formed from journalism and communications students, entitled “When I Drink Too Much.” Messages center on the experiences of students when they drink too much. Experiences include those relating to “texting under the influence,” such as “When I drink too much I send my mom texts meant for my girlfriend. She knows way too much about my relationships now.”

Lessons Learned

According to Miller, strong relationships and collaborations not only on campus but within the community and across the state are very important in supporting prevention efforts. “I currently serve as the chair-elect for our statewide coalition, Florida Higher Education Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention. This coalition has provided us with the opportunity to work with the Florida Board of Governors to address alcohol issues within higher education, which is a first,” she said.
Dodd emphasized it is important not to get discouraged if drinking rates go up. “Remember, we are dealing with a new crop of students every year,” she said.
“In addition, you cannot do this kind of work in a silo. To really succeed we need a great deal of assistance from a lot of people. But we also recognize we must be willing to help others succeed in their efforts as well,” Dodd concluded. “This often means involvement in a variety of coalitions and committees external to UF. The question we continually ask ourselves is, “Who wins if we win?” Once we have the answer we try to find ways to help them succeed, and in turn, they help us to succeed. And when we succeed, UF students benefit, which is the ultimate goal of our efforts here at UF.”

Additional Information

For more information, contact Maureen Miller, emm@ufl.edu or Dr. Virginia Dodd, vdodd@hhp.ufl.edu.
Institution Characteristics:
Gainesville, Florida
Date Posted: 
August 2010
The Higher Education Center welcomes your feedback.
Please use our Suggestion Box.

Risk Management for the Modern Campus: Alcohol and Campus Risk Management

Risk Management for the Modern Campus: Alcohol and Campus Risk Management, by Peter F Lake and Darby Dickerson, Stetson University College of Law (Fl)  October 2006.  See link

Below are pages from the article that address specific initiatives that universities can take to address the alcohol culture. JMU has some features of some of the initiatives. JMU is hampered by not having a clear unified comprehensive plan.  As I review JMU's documentation I think JMU is weak on Faculty involvement, Departmental Involvement, Parental education and Involvement, Alcohol policies and conduct codes and Alternative activities and extended hours. Just from a Risk Management perspective JMU needs some improvement.  From a student safety perspective JMU needs improvement.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Emergency Room- Alcohol Screening CDC

  The Center for Disease Control is concerned about excessive drinking as a risk factor in injury and Emergency room visits as outlined below. ( see link http://www.cdc.gov/InjuryResponse/alcohol-screening/index.html  
I recently  sent an e mail to Rockingham Memorial Hospital requesting statistics on emergency room visits by JMU college students. Will post any response I receive.

Alcohol Screening

The Issue: Excessive Drinking and Injuries

When people drink too much, they increase the chances that they’ll injure themselves and others. In fact, excessive drinking is the leading risk factor for injury in the United States and the third leading cause of preventable death, accounting for more than 75,000 deaths annually – that’s one death every 7 minutes.

Broadening our Impact: Redefining the Problem

The problem extends beyond the 4% of the U.S. population that is addicted to alcohol. Another 25% of the population also drinks in excess, but is not addicted. Both groups are at significant risk for becoming injured. The drinking patterns of both groups contribute to the significant alcohol-related mortality burden in the United States.
To reduce alcohol-related injuries and deaths, public health strategies must engage both groups, that is, all people who drink too much. For more than a decade, CDC’s Injury Center has supported research and training in alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI), a process to identify patients who drink too much and to provide brief, onsite counseling.

Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI)

CDC has worked with emergency departments and trauma centers to implement SBI. By uniformly screening all incoming patients, they can identify those who engage in risky drinking behaviors, and provide them with brief counseling onsite. Positive research results—reduced medical costs and hospital readmissions—led the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (COT) to require all Level I trauma centers to use SBI.
Trauma centers care for patients who are severely injured—many patients were injured because they or someone else drank too much. This makes trauma centers ideal settings for providing SBI to those who need it, and brief interventions delivered in trauma centers and emergency departments have been shown to reduce alcohol-related risky behaviors. 

Research Results

  • Screening and Brief Interventions for Alcohol in Trauma Centers Saves Lives  – A study from a CDC-funded injury research center showed that each dollar invested in SBI was returned almost four-fold, $3.81, through savings of overall healthcare costs.
  • A research trial of SBI demonstrated lowered health care costs and reduced readmissions to trauma, emergency department, and hospitals by 50%.
  • SBI has been shown to significantly decrease drinks consumed per week and the number of binge drinking episodes.


How much is too much?

Learn more about "low-risk" and "heavy"drinking , and evaluate your drinking pattern at the web site for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Facts About Alcohol Poisoning and Tips for Cutting Down on Drinking

The NIAAA web site has some useful information about alcohol facts. See links.
Facts About Alcohol Poisoning ( from link: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/OtherAlcoholInformation/factsAboutAlcoholPoisoning.aspx) see also Tips for Cutting Down on Drinking http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/OtherAlcoholInformation/tipsForCuttingDownonDrinking.aspx

 Facts About Alcohol Poisoning
Excessive drinking can be hazardous to everyone's health! It can be particularly
stressful if you are the sober one taking care of your drunk roommate, who is vomiting
while you are trying to study for an exam.
Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it's even
funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the aspiration of vomit
leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of
which can result in death.
Do you know about the dangers of alcohol poisoning? When should you seek
professional help for a friend? Sadly enough, too many college students say they wish
they would have sought medical treatment for a friend. Many end up feeling responsible
for alcohol-related tragedies that could have easily been prevented.
Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, taking a cold bath or
shower, sleeping it off, or walking it off. But these are just myths, and they don't work.
The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is time-something you may not have if
you are suffering from alcohol poisoning. And many different factors affect the level of
intoxication of an individual, so it's difficult to gauge exactly how much is too much
(BAC calculators).
What Happens to Your Body When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag
reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these
It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an
irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause
death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.
You should also know that a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue
to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in
the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout
the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.
Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning
• Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
• Vomiting.
• Seizures.
• Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
• Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
• Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?
• Know the danger signals.
• Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
• Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.
• If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help. Don't try to
guess the level of drunkenness.
What Can Happen to Someone With Alcohol Poisoning That Goes
• Victim chokes on his or her own vomit.
• Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops.
• Heart beats irregularly or stops.
• Hypothermia (low body temperature).
• Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures.
• Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent
brain damage, or death.
Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage.
Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet or a dare) is especially dangerous
because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.
Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don't
worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed-remember, you cared enough
to help. Always be safe, not sorry.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Friday classes and better enforcement of disciplinary actions.

The NIAAA report, "A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges" notes some policy changes that JMU could make to impact the negative alcohol culture. Requiring Friday classes and exams are ways to curtail the Thursday night drinking tradition at JMU. Anther area that needs improvement is enforcement of disciplinary actions as highlighted below.  (see link for full report: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/NIAAACollegeMaterials/TaskForce/TaskForce_TOC.aspx)

Tier 3: Evidence of Logical and Theoretical Promise, But Require More Comprehensive Evaluation

The Task Force recognizes that a number of popular strategies and policy suggestions make sense intuitively or have strong theoretical support. Many also raise researchable questions that may be crucial in reducing the consequences of college student drinking. Although the Task Force is eager to see these strategies implemented and evaluated, it cautions interested schools to assemble a team of experienced researchers to assist them in the process.
The Task Force recommends that schools considering any of these strategies incorporate a strong evaluation component to test their viability in actual practice. Every strategy that appears below targets the student population as a whole.
"Excessive student drinking contributes to failed academic performance ranging from missed classes to attrition. At the same time, many colleges and universities unwittingly help create a culture of student drinking by scheduling no classes on Friday, thereby creating three-day weekends, and by grade inflation which tolerates and even rewards minimal student performance."
Susan Resneck Pierce, President
University of Puget Sound

Strategy: Adopting campus-based policies and practices that appear to be capable of reducing high-risk alcohol use. The following activities are particularly appealing because straightforward and relatively brief evaluations should indicate whether they would be successful in reducing high-risk drinking on a particular campus.
  • Reinstating Friday classes and exams to reduce Thursday night partying; possibly scheduling Saturday morning classes.
  • Implementing alcohol-free, expanded late-night student activities.
  • Eliminating keg parties on campus where underage drinking is prevalent.
  • Establishing alcohol-free dormitories.
  • Employing older, salaried resident assistants or hiring adults to fulfill that role.
  • Further controlling or eliminating alcohol at sports events and prohibiting tailgating parties that model heavy alcohol use.
  • Refusing sponsorship gifts from the alcohol industry to avoid any perception that underage drinking is acceptable.
  • Banning alcohol on campus, including at faculty and alumni events.
Strategy: Increasing enforcement at campus-based events that promote excessive drinking (DeJong and Langenbahn, 1996; Gulland, 1994). Campus police can conduct random spot checks at events and parties on campus to ensure that alcohol service is monitored and that age identification is checked. It may be important for non-students to enforce these campus policies. Resident assistants and others charged with developing close supportive relationships with students might find it difficult to enforce alcohol-related rules and regulations consistently and uniformly.

Strategy: Increasing publicity about and enforcement of underage drinking laws on campus and eliminating "mixed messages." As indicated previously, active enforcement of minimum legal age drinking laws results in declines in sales to minors (Grube, 1997; Lewis et al., 1996; Preusser et al., 1994; Wagenaar et al., 2000). Lax enforcement of State laws and local regulations on campus may send a "mixed message" to students about compliance with legally imposed drinking restrictions. Creative approaches are needed to test the feasibility of this strategy (DeJong and Langford, 2002).
"We dare not let alcohol blemish your bright promise."
Thomas K. Hearn, Jr., President
Wake Forest University
in a letter to incoming first-year students

Strategy: Consistently enforcing disciplinary actions associated with policy violations (DeJong and Langford, 2002). Inconsistent enforcement of alcohol-related rules may suggest to students that "rules are made to be broken." To test the effectiveness of this approach would likely require staff and faculty training, frequent communication with students, and the implementation of a research component.

Strategy: Conducting marketing campaigns to correct student misperceptions about alcohol use (Berkowitz, 1997; Clapp and McDonnell, 2000; DeJong and Linkenbach, 1999; Johannessen et al., 1999; Page et al., 1999; Perkins, 1997, 2002; Perkins and Wechsler, 1996). On the basis of the premise that students overestimate the amount of drinking that occurs among their peers and then fashion their own behavior to meet this perceived norm, many schools are now actively conducting "social norming" campaigns to correct many of these misperceptions.

Strategy: Provision of "safe rides" programs (DeJong, 1995). Safe rides attempt to prevent drinking and driving by providing either free or low-cost transportation such as taxis or van shuttles from popular student venues or events to residence halls and other safe destinations. Safe rides are usually restricted to students, faculty, staff, and a limited number of "guests." Safe rides sponsors often include student government, Greek Councils, student health centers, campus police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapters, and other local community organizations, agencies, and businesses. They have been criticized as potentially encouraging high-risk drinking, and this possibly should be considered in design, promotion, and monitoring.

Strategy: Regulation of happy hours and sales (Toomey and Wagenaar, 2002). Happy hours and price promotions—such as two drinks for the price of one or women drink for free—are associated with higher consumption among both light and heavy drinkers. Research shows that as the price of alcohol goes up, consumption rates go down, especially among younger drinkers. Because many bars surrounding campuses attract students by promoting drink specials, restrictions on happy hours have the potential to reduce excessive consumption off campus. If colleges and universities have a licensed establishment on campus, drink specials could be prohibited or promotion of alcohol-free drinks and food specials could be encouraged. In nonlicensed settings on campus that serve alcohol, event planners could opt to limit the amount of free alcohol that is available and eliminate all self-service. Schools could also limit alcohol use to weekends or after regular class hours in an effort to separate drinking from activities more closely aligned with the core academic mission.

Strategy: Informing new students and their parents about alcohol policies and penalties before arrival and during orientation periods. There is some anecdotal evidence that experiences during the first 6 weeks of enrollment affect subsequent success during the freshman year. Because many students begin drinking heavily during this time, they may be unable to adapt appropriately to campus life. Alerting parents and students to this possibility early on (e.g., through preadmission letters to parents and inclusion of information in orientation sessions and in presidents' and student leaders' welcoming speeches) may help prevent the development of problems during this critical, high-risk period.

Educational efforts alone prove ineffective

The NIAAA report, "A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges" notes that educational programs used alone are ineffective in changing the alcohol culture at a university. (see link for full report: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/NIAAACollegeMaterials/TaskForce/TaskForce_TOC.aspx)  The majority of JMU efforts are educational programs. Below is the section of the NIAAA report addressing this point.


Tier 4: Evidence of Ineffectiveness

The Task Force recognizes that it is difficult or impossible to "prove" that a specific intervention approach is universally ineffective. Nevertheless, when there are consistent findings across a wide variety of well-designed studies, it is possible to conclude that an approach is not likely to be effective and that limited resources should be used in other ways. Additionally, if there is strong evidence that an intervention approach is actually harmful or counterproductive, recommendations not to use it can be made based on fewer studies.
The Task Force also notes that some interventions may be ineffective when used in isolation, but might make an important contribution as part of a multicomponent integrated set of programs and activities (Larimer and Cronce, 2002). However, until there is evidence of a complementary or synergistic effect resulting from inclusion with other strategies, college administrators are cautioned against making assumptions of effectiveness without scientific evidence.
Strategy: Informational, knowledge-based, or values clarification interventions about alcohol and the problems related to its excessive use, when used alone (Larimer and Cronce, 2002; Maddock, 1999). This strategy is based on the assumption that college students excessively use alcohol because they lack knowledge or awareness of health risks and that an increase in knowledge would lead to a decrease in use. Although educational components are integral to some successful interventions, they do not appear to be effective in isolation. Despite this evidence, informational/educational strategies are the most commonly utilized techniques for individually focused prevention on college campuses (DeJong and Langford, 2002; Larimer and Cronce, 2002).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

JMU SGA Vice President resigns- alcohol charges involved

In an article in the JMU The Breeze newspaper (see link:  http://www.breezejmu.org/) it reports that " Brock Wallace, two-term vice president of student Affairs, stepped down at Tuesday's senate meeting in a move that few expected as senators prepared to motion for impeachment."  Wallace was charged "...with underaged possession of alcohol and an open container charge on Oct. 15. He is on supervised probation for one year after pleading guilty in September for indecent exposure charge stemming from an incident in a Belk restroom in Valley Mall."
  It is encouraging to see the JMU student leadership holding an officer accountable for alcohol misconduct.  Maybe there is a beginning student led movement to change the negative alcohol culture at JMU.  The NIAAA report notes the need for student involvement as a necessary step to changing the alcohol culture at a university as noted below: (see link for full report: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/NIAAACollegeMaterials/TaskForce/TaskForce_TOC.aspx)

The Need for Student Participation in Prevention Policymaking and Programs
Both college presidents and student members of the Task Force reiterated the importance of involving students in rethinking a school's approach to high-risk student drinking. Students are not only the primary targets and beneficiaries of prevention programs, but also key contributors to their successful implementation (Mara, 2000; Presidents Leadership Group, 1997).
In their discussions about the practical issues involved in developing and sustaining workable policies, Task Force members described several areas where student participation not only improved a school's policy, but also increased campus-wide "ownership" of the prevention efforts emanating from it (Mara, 2000).
These include participation in (Mara, 2000):
  • Campus-based task forces to direct prevention program efforts and develop specific strategies for promoting change in student organizations;
  • Joint campus and community coalitions;
  • Reviews of proposed policies before they are finalized;
  • Judicial reviews by dormitory councils that hear cases of first alcohol infractions; and
  • Training of student residence hall staff to eliminate communication of mixed messages about alcohol use on campus and improve consistent enforcement of alcohol policies.
From the Task Force's perspective, inviting students to share in the development and implementation of the recommendations outlined above will help ensure that the strategies selected meet an institution's specific needs and receive the continued attention required for success.

Monday, November 1, 2010

In their own voices: Appendix B

      Part of the Environmental Scan report includes "Appendix B,"  which is transcripts of comments from JMU students in response to questions about the alcohol culture at JMU.  There were 104 comments. It is clear that JMU students see the JMU alcohol culture as providing free alcohol at many parties and no limits on drinking.  The City of Harrisonburg  provides the "Drunk Bus" for JUM students and it accomplishes two purposes: 1. It  gets students home safely and   2. It encourages students to place no limits on their drinking.  Many students identify problems that occurred while drinking. Students note individual responsibility and responsible choices and also note how very focused JUM social events are on binge drinking.  I have included a sampling of several pages of the comments.