Social Norms

social norms

Most Marist students drink moderately or
abstain from using alcohol

MOST MARIST STUDENTS HAVE
0-4 OR AT THE MOST 5 DRINKS
WHEN THEY GO OUT

3 out of 4 students say they don't have
to drink to have a good time

14% of Marist students abstain from
using alcohol

What's this message all about?

The Just the Facts campaign aims to improve the health of students by sharing information that students are not usually aware of. The majority of students at Marist College believe heavy drinking is the norm for most students. The Just the Facts campaign, conducted by the Division of Student Affairs with support from Education Development Center (EDC), is a media campaign that provides students with actual data about student drinking behaviors. When students know more about their peer's actual use of alcohol and their related behaviors, they are better able to make their own decisions about their own alcohol use. You may already be familiar with our campaign from having seen it around campus. You may have even completed a survey, provided feedback for one of our campus ads, or assisted us by participating in a focus group.

The statistics presented in the campaign are based on up-to-date information provided by Marist College students. The Survey of College Alcohol Norms and Behavior (SCANB) was administered in the spring 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 semesters to a random sampling of Marist students through the U.S. Mail by EDC.

The Just the Facts program was first developed by the Golden Key International Honor Society and is part of the Social Norms Marketing Research Project (SNMRP), a national, five-year study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the U.S. Department of Education.

Facts about Marist College student alcohol use and behaviors based on the study survey results

The majority of Marist College students are safe and responsible drinkers. Results of the spring 2004 survey indicate:

  • 93% have never been involved in a physical fight due to their alcohol use
  • 92% have never damaged property due to their alcohol use
  • 92% have never performed poorly on a test or important project due to their alcohol use
  • 82% have never driven a car while under the influence of alcohol
  • 82% have never pressured another student to drink alcohol
  • 87% have never been hurt or injured due to their alcohol use
  • 82% have never ridden with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol
  • 81% have never fallen behind in their class work due to their alcohol use
  • 86% have never missed a class due to their alcohol use
  • 72% have never passed out due to their alcohol use
  • 71% have never gotten sick/vomited due to their alcohol use

What? You Don't Believe the Message!

Why do students believe other students drink often and drink heavily? Heavy drinking and high-risk drinking is very visible and dramatic so it gets lots of attention. It is the drinking behavior students are most likely to hear about and witness, so it seems like that's what everybody's doing. However, most students are making healthier choices than you might think with regard to drinking. The survey data used in the campaign is from you, the student! The data is collected as part of a national study, using rigorous sampling techniques and a scientifically sound research and analysis protocol.

What is the SCANB ? SCANB stands for the Survey of College Alcohol Norms and Behaviors. The survey is administered each spring at Marist College so that we can learn more about student attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors with regard to alcohol use. It is administered annually by the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), a nonprofit public health and education organization that conducts research on a variety of health topics.

Statistics presented in the campaign are based on results from SCANB administered to a random sampling of Marist students the past two years.

More information about the survey

Are you confused about the "0-4 or at the most 5 drinks...." message?

Another way of understanding the message is that most of the students at Marist College said that when they socialize with alcohol they either don't drink, have one drink, two drinks, three drinks, four drinks, but no more than five drinks. This also means that some students have more than five drinks. Most of us would become quite intoxicated if we drank six drinks on one occasion unless we spaced the drinks out over many hours, weighed more than average, and ate while we drank. The more we drink the more likely we are to experience negative consequences as a result of drinking. The intent of this message is merely to point out that most Marist College students are either moderate, light, or non-drinkers. In fact, knowing this statistic about peers is helping some students feel confident about their choice to drink moderately or not at all. Talk it over with your friends, your resident assistant, a residence director, a mentor, faculty or staff member.

A few students have said the "0" in the message sounds confusing. Approximately 14% of Marist students abstain from using alcohol. Some students have also said the message "when they go out" is confusing, as many students feel students also drink alcohol before they go out. The message was developed based on student feedback during summer of 2001 whereby the majority of students interviewed were not comfortable with the original words "when they party" and instead preferred the words "when they go out". Students said they thought of these two phrases as synonymous. In fact, the survey question was written as follows, "When you party, how many drinks do you usually have?" The survey instrument measures the number of total drinks a student consumes, regardless of the location.

Background on Social Norms Marketing

The Problem

College and university administrators have consistently cited high-risk ("binge") drinking as the number-one substance abuse problem on campus. Student health personnel identify it as the major public health problem among college and university students. High-risk drinking is a contributing factor in poor academic performance, property damage, bodily injury, sexual assault, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. But while it is certainly a problem, the majority of students are moderate or light drinkers, or don't drink at all.

Why is the Division of Student Affairs Conducting this Campaign?

We care about your health and your success. In New York State it is illegal to purchase alcohol, drive after drinking (BAC of .08), sell alcohol to a minor, and carry an open container if you are under 21 years of age. If you are over 21 years of age, we recommend that if you choose to drink, you limit your intake. The recommended amount of alcohol intake according to Food and Drug Administration is no more than 2 drinks daily for adult men, and no more than 1 drink daily for non-pregnant adult women. Lowering intake of alcohol may improve levels of academic performance, reduce instances of sexual assault, bodily injury, property damage, and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

What Does it Mean for Our Campus?

Just the Facts will have a campus wide impact. Involving a variety of departments and student groups can strengthen connections and relationships on our campus. This is an excellent opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to work together to promote positive, healthy behavior and attempt to effect positive changes at Marist College.

Securing local support can reinforce ties between Marist and the community, and promote a positive image of campus life.

Students engaged in this project will have the opportunity to develop leadership skills and benefit from teamwork experience.

Marist College receives school-level SCANB results from Education Development Center each year, as well as training and ongoing technical assistance to implement the program.

Want to be Involved with the Social Norms Marketing Project?

Great! The message cannot get widely distributed without student assistance, so your help is invaluable to Just the Facts. You can volunteer a little or a lot, but most tasks require only an hour or so per week. Here are some examples of tasks that are part of the Just the Facts campaign at Marist:

  • Generating and submitting ideas for wider dissemination of the message
  • Creating and disseminating table tents, flyers and other media
  • Writing letters to the Editor of the Circle to educate peers about the campaign and generate dialogue about it
  • Host a "town hall" type meeting that discusses the campaign and generate feedback about it
  • Participate in a focus group to test new posters bearing the message
  • Help with "saturation surveys" to determine how broad the exposure is on campus
  • Talk to your instructors about including the message in a lecture - or better yet, in a classroom discussion. Refer them to this web site for more information
  • Help with "reinforcement activities" which provide rewards to random students who know the message
  • Plan and/or implement special interactive events featuring activities that disseminate the message (e.g., contests or non-competitive games using give-away items, such as Frisbees or stress balls, bearing the message)
  • Your idea here - just let us know!

If you have any questions or if you want to become involved with the campaign, contact: Steve Sansola, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Office location, RO 388,
Telephone (845) 575-3517
E-mail: Steve.Sansola@Marist.edu

References


Meier, SE, Brigham, TA, & Handel, G (1987). Accuracy of drinkers' recall of alcohol consumption in a field setting. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 48(4): 325-8.

Newport, F, Saad, L, & Moore, D (1997). "How Polls are Conducted," Where America Stands (Gallup Organization: John Wiley & Sons, 1997). Website: http://www.gallup.com/help/FAQs/poll1.asp

Nurco, DN (1985). A discussion of validity. In BA Rouse, NJ Kozel & LG Richards (Eds.), Self-report methods of estimating drug use: Meeting current challenges to validity [NIDA Research Monograph 57] (4-21). Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Sobell, LC, Sobell, MB, Leo, GI, & Cancilla, A (1988). Reliability of a timeline method: Assessing normal drinkers' reports of recent drinking and a comparative evaluation across several populations. British Journal of Addiction, 83(4): 393-402.