GW to participate in national alcohol survey

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism selected GW to participate in a four-year study to educate students on the statistics of alcohol usage on college campuses.

The U.S. Department of Education will send the Social Norms Marketing Research Project survey to a random selection of GW students by mail by the end of February.

GW is one of 14 schools selected out of 83 colleges and universities from across the nation that applied for the project, and will receive about $50,000 for participating in the study.

Each school participating in the project will conduct similar social norm marketing campaigns from spring 2001 to spring 2004. Each study aims at the same goal of reducing high-risk drinking on college campuses across the country.

Brian Hamluk, director of GW’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education, said he believes the study will show students there are in fact many students who drink responsibly, as opposed to those who “binge drink.”

“Basically, we are going to get the accurate messages out there and let the students judge for themselves on the issues,” Hamluk said.

Hamluk will coordinate the study with off-site support and management from the Education Development Center.

The survey will include in-depth questions dealing with all aspects of alcohol use, including frequency of use, how a student’s drinking impacts interaction with others, if alcohol use defines one’s image and other topics. The survey also explores the difference between a student’s alcohol use in high school and use in college.

Some students said they look forward to reading the survey results.

“I think that it would be interesting to find out the number of students who drink responsibly as opposed to those who drink irresponsibly,” freshman Nell McGarity said. “The project has the potential to improve the public’s view of typical college students and their drinking habits.”

Using posters, flyers, information tables at the Marvin Center and radio ads to publicize the survey, Hamluk said CADE will be able to help students develop their own ideas on the facts about high-risk drinking on campus.

“I think that GW is an excellent community to experience this sort of work,” said Mike Walker, senior assistant dean of students. “We have students that experience challenges with drugs and alcohol, and this will give us a better opportunity to measure the number of students with these issues. The Social Norms Marketing Research Project will be a very positive approach to behavior change.”

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