CSU Reports Preliminary Success with Curbing Student Alcohol Abuse

(July 16, 2003) -- In the two years since the California State University Board of Trustees adopted the nation’s most comprehensive systemwide student alcohol policy, preliminary results indicate that significant changes have occurred.

The policy has produced a number of concrete results that indicate that the CSU is making inroads into the national problem of alcohol abuse at the university level. CSU Trustees commented on a report presented at their July 16 board meeting by Fresno State President John Welty, chair of the CSU alcohol policies and prevention programs committee.

“We have made tremendous progress,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “Student alcohol abuse is the number one problem on university campuses, and the CSU will continue to work hard to come up with solutions that attack this problem with intensity and commitment.”

A preliminary comparison between a base survey taken in spring 2002 and the most recent survey taken in spring 2003 provides a string of promising indicators:
· A 5-10 percent reduction in alcohol use
· A 5-10 percent reduction in underage students consuming alcohol within a 30-day period
· A 3-5 percent decline in binge drinking
· A 10-15 percent decline in student alcohol-related misconduct
· A 20-25 percent reduction in the number of alcohol-related judicial cases
· A 3-5 percent reduction in property damage caused by excessive drinking
· A 30 percent reduction in alcohol-related incidents in resident halls
· A 20-30 percent reduction in driving-under-the-influence occurrences.

“These results are very encouraging and very positive,” said Trustee Ralph Pesqueira. “It is important to realize that much needs to be done in the coming years if we are going to continue to make a difference.”

One of the keys to the policy’s success is the flexibility provided to the 23 campuses to tailor an approach matching their unique campus situation, since each campus varies in size, student body makeup, local community, and residence provisions. The policy also provides for sharing of successful programs and a family of similar approaches. For instance, although campus variations exist, the majority of CSU students do not live on campus and are of legal drinking age, which requires a persuasive rather than a prohibitive approach.

To help launch the effort, the Chancellor’s Office has provided more than half a million dollars of matching grants to the campuses for a total of $1.1 million to support alcohol education, training, and prevention programs. Campuses have also drawn in outside support funding of more than $3 million.

Much of this funding has come about as a result of the groundbreaking state compact that the CSU signed with six state agencies involved in combating alcohol abuse.

For example, an eight-campus compact with the state Office of Traffic Safety brought in two-year funding of nearly $770,000 to support the Sober Driver Initiative. This initiative will create a coordinated DUI prevention program, aimed at reducing by 5 percent the incidence of alcohol abuse and impaired driving by CSU students on partner campuses.

The program will use a social norms marketing campaign to correct student misperceptions about the “normal” level of drinking on their campus (it commonly is much less than students believe). The approach also includes peer education and Responsible Beverage Service training on and off campus to reduce underage drinking/intoxicated patron violations. In addition the initiative will develop a model program linking CSU prevention programs with “feeder” high schools.

In tandem with this, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has provided grants totaling $720,000 to local law enforcement agencies to allow them to partner with the eight campuses in working in the surrounding communities, thus addressing off-campus drinking.

Innovative and effective campus programs and policy changes include
· Using “fatal alcohol goggles” which simulate the effects on a person of over-the-limit alcohol
· Providing alternative spring break and Friday night programs to give non-drinkers new ways to celebrate and relax
· Creating a birthday card campaign that encourages students nearing their 21st birthdays to celebrate safely
· Offering a weeklong OKSOBERFEST to show students nonalcoholic ways to have fun while also promoting drinking safety for those of legal age
· Offering “safe ride” programs
· Changing stadium policies to control tailgate parties and to move the last call for alcohol earlier to reduce after-game incidents
· Launching a “Did you Know?”campaign showing students how to spot and respond to symptoms of alcohol poisoning
· Reducing student exposure to alcohol promotion by enforcing posting policies, prohibiting alcohol advertising, or encouraging organizations to seek alternative funding for their events.

The guiding principles of the CSU policy are
· Promote healthy choices for students as part of an informational campaign
· Provide a clear policy which is widely communicated to staff, students and their families
· Support safe, legal, responsible, moderate consumption of alcohol for those who choose to drink rather than punishing responsible, legal behavior
· Enforce laws and policies consistently with regards to alcohol use
· Encourage students to take responsibility for each other, recognizing and supporting Good Samaritan behavior
· Use social norms principles and peer education as core parts of the program
· Assist students who need support or treatment
· Involve students in the development of policy and programs
· Be active in the surrounding community, not keeping this a campus-only focus, in order to establish a safe on-campus and off-campus environment.

The text of the biennial report can be found as part of the Committee on Educational Policy’s July 2003 Agenda at http://www.calstate.edu/BOT/agendas/Jul03/EdPol.pdf. Included in this comprehensive report is what each campus identified as its single most effective program.

Contact: Colleen Bentley-Adler (562) 951-4801, cbentley-adler@calstate.edu

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Last Updated: 16 July 2003

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