|College Students Log On to Fight Campus
"HadEnough.org" Web Site Offers New Prevention Tool
WASHINGTON - College students weary of alcohol-fueled sexual aggression, rude and obnoxious behaviors, and other binge-drinking related problems now have a Web Site to help them. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), in collaboration with Cornell University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), has launched a Web Site (www.HadEnough.org) designed to assist student efforts to reduce the effects of destructive drinking in campus communities. The interactive Web Site provides information and advocacy tips that encourage student involvement to improve the quality of life on campus and challenge long held perceptions of heavy alcohol use as a normal "rite of passage."
Students visiting the Web Site find validation for the irritation, fear, and discomfort caused by peers' drunken behaviors. They also find evidence of widespread student concern about "spill-over effects" of heavy drinking, including: loud and obnoxious behavior, increased campus violence and sexual assault, vandalism, litter, increased drop-out rates, and lower academic performance. Hyperlinks on the site connect students to campus organizations working on alcohol issues and link them together in discussion groups.
An edgy and irreverent ad campaign in campus newspapers and on posters, table tents, flyers, and postcards promotes the Web Site on the two campuses. The ads humorously challenge student acceptance of familiar drinking-related nuisances such as vomiting, hangovers, vandalism, late night parties, and caring for drunken friends. The advertisements then urge students to seek real relief from campus alcohol-related headaches by visiting www.HadEnough.org (where the ads can also be seen).
The HadEnough campaign departs from traditional alcohol prevention programs, which typically seek to influence individual student drinking decisions through alcohol education and risk awareness, scare tactics, and exhortations to drink "responsibly." Those messages have had little effect on problem drinking, according to Dr. Henry Wechsler, author of The Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, because the heaviest drinkers do not think that they have a problem.
"Persuading individual students to drink less has not worked. Our project takes a different, advocacy-oriented approach by engaging the non-binging students in efforts to change campus drinking cultures," said CSPI's manager of college initiatives, Kim Miller.
According to Wechsler's 1999 study, half of all students nationwide believe that alcohol is a problem on their campus. "Students who don't binge drink but live on high binge drinking campuses are twice as likely to experience the second hand effects of the drinking of others than students on low binge campuses. These second hand effects include being awakened in the middle of the night, physical assaults, vandalism and, for women, unwanted sexual advances," Wechsler said. The same study found that a clear majority of college students would support tougher policies to address the consequences of heavy drinking on campus. Such controls include stricter enforcement of existing campus rules and state underage drinking laws, restrictions on the use of beer kegs at campus events, and campus bans on ads from local bars and clubs.
The HadEnough.org campaign is one element of UNC's and Cornell's aggressive programs designed to reduce alcohol problems on campus. Other ongoing Cornell and UNC efforts to cut binge drinking have included holding alcohol-free social events, discussing alcohol problems in freshman orientation programs, encouraging students to seek counseling for substance-abuse, promoting peer education programs, and correcting inflated misperceptions of student drinking norms. At Cornell, a student advocacy group called Renaissance works with student leaders and university administrators to improve the campus climate through policy changes and expanded alcohol-free social events.