A new publication by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, titled “Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention on College Campuses: Model Programs” cites two programs of Hobart and William Smith Colleges among a list of 30 institutions of higher education that the Department has identified in nationwide competition as providing effective model prevention programs. The two Colleges’ programs are The HWS Alcohol Education Project and Most Valuable Players-A Model Program Reinforcing Positive Norms, Correcting Misperceptions, and Reducing High-Risk Drinking Among Student Athletes.
“The inclusion of HWS in this list is particularly noteworthy because we are the only undergraduate liberal arts college to be selected throughout all of these selection years (1999 through 2007), and we were selected twice for two different program initiatives, an honor bestowed on only three other universities among the list,” says H. Wesley Perkins, professor of sociology and director of the Alcohol Education Project at the Colleges. The Project is a nationally recognized initiative providing research, educational resources, and strategies to reduce alcohol and other drug abuse.
According to the publication, available at http://www.higheredcenter.org/services/publications/alcohol-and-other-drug-prevention-college-campuses-model-programs, “College can and should be an exciting, enriching experience. To help ensure that it will be, students and their parents will want to choose a college that fosters students’ academic and social development and promotes campus and community safety. One critical element to consider is the alcohol and other drug culture of a campus.”
It goes on, “By becoming informed about alcohol and other drug prevention efforts on college campuses, prospective college students can increase the likelihood that they will avoid alcohol – and other drug-related problems and have their dreams and expectations for college met.”
A list of examples of effective strategies implemented by colleges and universities (that can be adopted by others), includes the Social Norms Approach Perkins and Professor of Chemistry David Craig implemented at HWS.
The programs listed were recipients of awards given by the U.S. Department of Education, in an effort to promote effective campus initiatives. According to the publication, “To be given an award under this program, a campus was required to describe an innovative program or policy that was integrated into an overall comprehensive alcohol and other drug prevention effort. The institution also had to provide evidence that the innovative program or policy was effective in reducing the problems resulting from alcohol or other drug abuse.”
Perkins is a graduate of Purdue University, and he received his M.A., M. Div., M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the author of dozens of journal articles about substance abuse prevention and has been honored with national awards for his work in preventing alcohol and drug abuse in colleges and universities. His work with Professor David Craig is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a premiere model for substance abuse prevention.
Craig received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at Riverside in 1977 and his B.A. from California State University at Chico. In 1979, Craig became a professor of chemistry at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Their work is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a premiere model for substance abuse prevention.
The description of the two HWS programs as they appear in the publication:
The HWS Alcohol Education Project (1999 award recipient)
Project Directors: H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D., and David W. Craig, Ph.D.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ program initiated a comprehensive campaign to reduce harmful, exaggerated misperceptions about how much drinking occurs among students and to reduce actual alcohol abuse. The project involved the development of innovative social marketing strategies as well as new strategies for teaching about alcohol, other drugs, and violence in the academic curriculum. Major activities included:
• a print and poster mass media campaign, based on local student survey data, to reduce drinking myths;
• an interdisciplinary course on alcohol abuse;
• an electronic multimedia campaign that brought the content of both the print media and the interdisciplinary course to computers across campus and to the World Wide Web (www.hws.edu/ alcohol); and
• a faculty and student-teacher training initiative for infusing alcohol and other drug information into the curriculum across academic programs and for community coalition building.
Along with substantial reductions in student misperceptions of peer drinking habits, follow-up program assessments have demonstrated a 21 percent reduction in actual frequent heavy drinking. During this same period, students reported a 31 percent reduction in missed classes, a 36 percent reduction in property damage, and a 40 percent reduction in unprotected sex due to drinking.
Most Valuable Players-A Model Program Reinforcing Positive Norms,
Correcting Misperceptions, and Reducing High-Risk Drinking Among Student Athletes (2005 award recipient)
Project Directors: H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D., and David W. Craig, Ph.D.
The Alcohol Education Project developed the Most Valuable Players program to promote positive norms, reduce harmful misperceptions, and reduce high-risk drinking and its consequences among student athletes.
Major activities included: (1) an anonymous, Web-based survey conducted among all student athletes at the institution, (2) a print and electronic mass media campaign, (3) a student athlete peer educator team to promote accurate information about healthy athlete norms, and (4) training on social norms prevention strategies and actual athlete norms for athletics staff and student peer educators.
Outcomes between 2001 and 2003 included: (1) a 45 percent reduction in the proportion of student athletes misperceiving drinking more than once per week as the teammate norm, (2) a 46 percent reduction in the proportion of student athletes drinking more than once per week, (3) a 30 percent reduction in the proportion of student athletes reaching an estimated blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or greater when drinking at parties and bars, (4) a 34 percent reduction in the proportion of student athletes experiencing frequent negative consequences due to drinking during the academic term, and (5) an average 2.5 hours per week increase in time spent in academic activities. In 2006, the project directors published the article “A Successful Social Norms Campaign to Reduce Alcohol Misuse Among College Student-Athletes” in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (67, 880-888), documenting the positive effect of this program.
As a model program, this initiative has expanded by (1) further demonstrating positive norms based on anonymous breathalyzer testing and using these results in social norms campaigns, and (2) providing the Web based Survey of Student-Athlete Norms for use by many other athletics programs in colleges and universities throughout the United States.