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College Drinking Prevention - Changing the Culture

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What Colleges Need to Know Now: An Update on College Drinking Research

A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges

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Involving Colleges and Universities

The first step in integrating research into the planning and execution of campus alcohol programs is to convince college and university presidents of the wisdom of supporting long-term research agendas that may not produce results during their tenure. Compelling arguments for this position can be made on the basis of:

  • Data describing the dimensions of the college drinking epidemic and its effects on students; institutional costs and good will; and the surrounding community;
  • Findings indicating that research-based strategies are effective in reducing underage and excessive student drinking; and
  • College presidents' desires to ensure a legacy that includes improved student health and safety as major achievements.

Establishing Administrative Norms

Once college and university presidents are committed to using a research-based approach, the next step is to establish administrative norms that:

  • Recognize the importance of research, and
  • Require inclusion of review and evaluation components before institutional resources are allocated for program implementation.

Obtaining External Support

Support is also needed on a more global level. Schools cannot be expected to mount campaigns for or implement research-based approaches on their own. Commitments are needed from the community surrounding the campus, as well as from funding sources such as foundations, national organizations, and the hospitality and alcohol beverage industries to support only comprehensive, research-based strategies for addressing underage and excessive college drinking. Concerted efforts by State and Federal policymakers and leaders from the broad-based alcohol abuse prevention and treatment fields are also essential to achieving this goal.

Credible research provides the foundation for making solid programming decisions. The sophisticated methods employed in contemporary research are producing information that:

  • Improves the effectiveness of prevention programs aimed at adolescents and young adults, and
  • Provides much-needed accountability for resources expended.

In the Task Force's view, the prospects for genuine progress in addressing underage and excessive student drinking are enhanced substantially when colleges and universities can:

  • Assess their problems realistically;
  • Adopt research-based strategies to confront them;
  • Adjust program activities to meet institution-specific needs; and
  • Define outcomes for drinking programs that reflect desired changes and can be measured.

External resources can help presidents ensure that these important activities are integrated within a school's program for addressing hazardous student drinking.


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Historical document
Last reviewed: 9/23/2005

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