INSIDE Chico State
0 August 30, 2001
Volume 32 Number 1
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
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Up Front

University Receives Federal Grant to Help Prevent Alcohol Abuse

California State University, Chico has received a $276,590 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a two-year program beginning this fall to reduce alcohol abuse among freshmen.

CSU, Chico was one of 14 campuses nationwide to receive word this summer that it had been awarded a federal anti-alcohol abuse grant. Walt Schafer, professor of sociology and program director, was informed the CSU, Chico grant proposal was ranked fourth by the panels of grant reviewers among 110 university applications.

The grant-funded alcohol education program will blend two innovative approaches that depart from commonly-used efforts that emphasize the hazards of drinking.

One part, “Wanna Know?”, will consist of a series of short interviews with students on 12 randomly-selected weekend nights this semester and next. Randomly-chosen freshmen will be asked to discuss their drinking, if any, that evening and to give a breath sample. A registered nurse and students trained as team leaders will conduct the interviews and will not in any way be related to enforcement of alcohol laws.

The interviews will provide immediate information to students about their blood alcohol concentrations in order to assist them in making informed choices about their drinking. Information about warning signs of alcohol poisoning and advice for handling a friend showing these signs will also be provided.

The second part of the program, “Did You Know?”, is a social norming campaign based on the assumption that students tend to drink to the level they believe their peers drink. As at many campuses nationwide, a sample survey of 874 CSU, Chico students showed they overestimate the amount of drinking among their peers and, therefore, orient their drinking to a false standard or norm.

Advertisements, posters, e-mails, and other communications will be used to correct widespread misperceptions among students by publicizing accurate facts about drinking, based on recent student surveys. Social norming campaigns have been found to be the single most effective method to diminish alcohol abuse at a number of other campuses in recent years.

Results of the “Wanna Know?” interviews and breath samples will be recorded to provide a more accurate picture than now available about the actual drinking patterns of CSU, Chico freshmen.

Joe Wills

The full text of this story can be found in the news release archives at www.csuchico.edu/pa/news.

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