Approaches Hold Promise to Curb Campus Drinking"
By Kerry J. Strand, Hood College, Footnotes, a publication
of the American Sociological Association
is provided below; to view the full text, click on the title of the
sociologists have contributed in important ways to the large body of
research as well as to public discussions about college drinking. Three
of the most well-known are Henry Wechsler, director of College Alcohol
Studies at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead researcher of
their college alcohol study; H. Wesley Perkins at Hobart and William
Smith Colleges, one of the developers of the widely-touted “social
norms campaign” approach to reducing excessive drinking on campuses;
and David Hanson, who hosts an award-winning website called Alcohol:
problems and solutions (www2.potsdam.edu/alcohol-info)
at the State University of New York-Potsdam, where he is a faculty member."
and his Harvard colleagues suggest that binge drinking is a huge and
worsening problem on campuses, others disagree. Perkins emphasizes that
the harmful consequences associated with heavy drinking are not occurring
for the majority of students in most contexts. Hanson goes further and
argues that alarmist estimates of underage and binge drinking on college
campuses are just that—alarmist—and that both underage and
heavy drinking have steadily declined. He and others suggest that some
of the problem has to do with definition and measurement issues, particularly
the definition of “binge drinking.”
Thinking: Henry Wechsler Has Defined the Student-Drinking Problem, for
Better or Worse
By Eric Hoover, The Chronicle of Higher Education
This profile of
Henry Wechsler, director of the Harvard School of Public Health College
Alcohol Study (CAS), includes a brief examination of the controversy
surrounding the use by the CAS of the term "binge drinking"
and the 5/4 measure, as well as a discussion of social norms.
All in all a very
human portrait of "the soft-spoken Mr. Wechsler [who] is hard to
picture as such a polarizing figure in his field," and who "did
his first social drinking in high school, 'a few beers' with friends."
Information is also provided about the extent of Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation funding to the CAS: "About $5.5 million has gone to
the project itself since 1992, with an additional $1-million for marketing,
part of which Mr. Wechsler has used to contract with Burness Communications,
a Maryland firm that handles much of his public-relations work."
NCAA Division III Pilot STARR Social Norms Campaign
The Peer Educator, pp 11 & 13, Vol 25, No. 4
September 27, 2002
Social Norms 101: Perkins Advocates Focusing on the Positive
by Ed Forbes, ppA1 & A16, The Adirondack Daily Enterprise
August 28, 2002
ECSU (Eastern Connecticut State University) Gets Grant to Fight Alcohol Abuse
by Grace Merritt, pB4, The Herald Courant
Which Alcohol Policies Work? Efforts to Curb Campus-Drinking Excesses Have Stagnated
by Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy, Research that Matters
June 18, 2002
Making Alcohol 'Uncool' Key to Educating Teens
by Rick Foster, The Sun Chronicle
Norming May Be Strategy for Good Behavior
By Karen Thomas, USA Today
impression that the norm for today's young people is drunken debauchery
simply isn't true. Most kids are OK. It's the best-kept secret on college
campuses, and a growing number of experts believe that keeping all this
good news quiet is doing far more harm than good."
is made of the social norm campaigns at the universities of Arizona,
North Carolina, and Wisconsin-Oshkosh, as well as throughout the 23-campus
California State University System. The successful intervention at the
DeKalb and Sycamore (IL) high schools is also noted.
May 9, 2002
Wanted: A More Positive Approach to Preventing Binge-Drinking
by N. Zeke Campfield, The Badger Herald (University of Wisconsin)
Drinking Study Is Intoxicating Scam
By Steven Milloy, Fox News
news about excessive college drinking is another shocking example of
statistical deception by shameless activists manipulating a media panting
Isn't Doing It
By Alexander Conant, The Badger Herald Tribune
report is not the first to recommend so-called social norm marketing.
Social norm campaigns operate on the logical premise that misconceptions
and reality are highly correlated…Such campaigns are cheap, effective
and honest-unlike some of the ongoing scare tactics."
to Curb College Binges
Christian Science Monitor, Editorial
campaigns that emphasize the fact that most students, 60 percent, either
don't drink or drink moderately have proven effective. Colleges have
to dispel the notion that heavy drinking is the norm."
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Task Force
Report on College Drinking
On April 9, 2002,
the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) issued
Force Report on College Drinking. In its section of the final report,
the Panel on Prevention and Treatment noted that "several institutions
that persistently communicated accurate norms have experienced reductions
of up to 20 percent in high-risk drinking over a relatively short period
of time. Together these findings provide strong support for the potential
impact of the social norms approach."
In addition, social
norms is among the so-called Tier 1 strategies recommended because of
its proven effectiveness. "Norms or value clarification,"
it points out, "examines students' perceptions about the acceptability
of abusive drinking behavior on campus and uses data to refute beliefs
about the tolerance for this behavior as well as beliefs about the number
of students who drink excessively and the amounts of alcohol they consume."
one of the scientific papers commissioned by the NIAAA Task Force and
published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (Supplement No. 14, March
2002) deals specifically with social norms:
Norms and the Prevention of Alcohol Misuse in College Contexts
By Dr. H. Wesley Perkins
This article provides
a review of conceptual and empirical studies on the role of social norms
in college student alcohol use and in prevention strategies to counter
misuse. The normative influences of various constituencies serving as
reference groups for students are examined as possible factors influencing
students' drinking behavior.
Although the Task
Force's own news
release acknowledges that "previous studies have shown that
most students drink moderately or abstain," most coverage of the
report has focused on several of its estimates--derived "by integrating
a number of national databases"--of the negative consequences experienced
by college students when they drink.
Below you will find
a number of items (presented in chronological order) that have appeared
in the national and regional press regarding the NIAAA report.
Boos for Booze
Wall Street Journal, Editorial
"Stop the presses…'Though
common on many campuses, alcohol abuse does not run rampant among all
college and university students,' declares an NIH press release, which
goes on to explain (really) that heavy drinkers drink the most."
April 4, 2002
the College Binge Drinking Problem Overstated?
By Laura Vanderkam, USA Today
Questions the value
of the so-called 5/4 binge drinking measure as "a completely arbitrary
standard chosen more for headlines than meaning."
January 28, 2002
Alcohol-use "Factoids" May Appear on Campus Computer Screens
By Lydia Hallay, Arizona Daily Wildcat (University of Arizona)