By implementing an alcohol program aimed at positive reinforcement, the negative behavior associated with drinking has declined over the past several years at the College, according to a forum held last Wednesday.
Joe Hadge, coordinator of the Alcohol and Drug Education Program (ADEP), said the percentage of students at the College who have been in trouble with police or residence halls on account of drinking too much has been steadily declining since 2000.
“Our ultimate goal is to reduce problematic drinking behavior by reinforcing the norm that most students are making healthy choices,” Hadge said.
ADEP is an organization responsible for hosting programs related to alcohol and other drug education and providing individual counseling services. One of its well-known programs is Lollanobooza, which is a lively event that brings students, clubs and organizations together on campus for a fun, alcohol-free night.
At the forum, Hadge emphasized the importance of ADEP’s advertising campaign targeted at the students. He said that students need to understand that drinking in moderation is the common practice that most students follow. They need to abandon the incorrect perception that most college students binge drink.
According to Hadge, marketing is the primary reason for the decline in the negative behavior associated with the use of alcohol at the College. He said it appears that the more students are reminded of the social norms when it comes to drinking, the more likely they are to follow the same healthy path.
Hadge used bar graphs to visually show the correlation between more marketing and less negative student behaviors as a result of drinking since the program began in 1999.
“I’m trying to teach students some life skills by being creative and thinking outside the box,” Hadge said. By using well-known people on campus like Larry, an Eickhoff Dining Hall employee, and connecting them to healthy statements of the social norm, students gain a better sense of the reality of alcohol consumption on campus, he said.
However, not all students agree. “I don’t think seeing those posters really affect students’ drinking behavior,” Kevin Kranz, junior accounting major, said.
The marketing campaign to open students’ eyes to the reality of college drinking is seen all around the campus. With the screensavers, pens, key chains and countless posters found in almost every building, it is tough for students to avoid ADEP’s message. Whether or not they believe the facts, however, is a different story.
One of the statements is, “Most students have 0-4 drinks when they party.” Some may be skeptical about the validity of this statement, but, as Hadge explained, it all depends on your perception.
“From my experience, there are only a handful of people at the College who can say that they do not drink on the weekends let alone get wasted,” Eddie McBurnie, senior business major, said
Despite this viewpoint, Hadge said that according to the surveys, the information is completely accurate. “I try to take data, research and raw information and apply it to gain a more accurate perception of college drinking,” he said.
While student surveys at the College cannot be completely random, Hadge said ADEP makes the best possible attempt to keep them accurate. He said the random selection often depends on which professors and students respond to him and agree to fill out the surveys.