Presenting at the American College Health Association’s annual meeting Richard P. McGaffigan, programme director for the Prevention Research Center reported on the progress of the Safer California Universities project, a study involving 14 US universities each supported by a 10-year grant worth up to $45,000.
The longitudinal study aims to identify where and how students get into trouble with alcohol, then test environmental prevention strategies that have been effective in general settings, on campuses. Incidents are tracked through annual student surveys.
Each university tailored its approach in a risk management plan based on its own student survey results with variations depending on housing, proximity to bars, commuter population, etc. Officials on the campuses learned from one another, adopting practices that work and abandoning those that don’t.
The project, funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, has found statistically significant reductions in intoxication and incidents at areas where high-risk drinking is frequent. Over all, the study found the following after five years: At each campus, 900 fewer students reported drinking to intoxication at off-campus parties and 600 fewer getting drunk at bars or restaurants during the fall semester. The study projects those figures are equivalent to 6,000 fewer intoxication-related incidents at off-campus parties and 4,000 fewer incidents at bars and restaurants during fall semester.
The campuses that tightened enforcement the most saw the greatest reductions, but no reduction in one area (for example, bars and restaurants) caused an increase in another (say, fraternities and sororities) because of a shift in emphasis.