Student Perceptions About Campus Drinking Policies and Potential Impact on Alcohol Consumption

Methodology

Participants

This study was conducted on 210 college-age students (42.9% males, 57.1% females, M age = 19.86 years, SD = 1.53 years, age range: 18-29 years). The study was conducted at a small, rural private Christian college in Indiana. In efforts to survey the entire student body, participants were selected on a volunteer basis.

Measures

To determine whether students violated their campus alcohol policy, the student's drinking behaviors were measured in correlation to their campus alcohol policy. At Huntington University, the location of the survey, the policy at the time of study stated that traditional undergraduate students were prohibited from using, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol on-campus, off-campus, and at all university-sponsored events (Huntington University, 2012).

To measure student's perceptions of the university drinking policy, the 2001 Survey of College Alcohol Norms and Behavior (National Institute of Health, 2002) was administered, minus sections 4 and 7 and questions 15-23, 28-32, 46, and 48. The reason for not including specific questions and sections was to help encourage higher response rates.

The survey was made up of five sections. The first section collected background information (e.g., gender, ethnic origin, student status, relationship status, student classification, approximate cumulative grade point average, extracurricular activities, current residence, level of , number of close friends) from the individual student. Section two posed questions pertaining to the student’s alcohol use. The third section aimed to understand students' perceptions of the alcohol norms of the campus. Section four requested students' opinions of campus and community policy. The last section pertained to students' perception of the school's overall environment.

Procedures

The surveys were administered via a hard copy to individual students. For the survey to remain anonymous, students were told not to put their name on the survey. Also to maintain confidentiality, the researchers obtained written consent from the participants. Students who participated in this study were put in a drawing to win a $10 gift card to Applebee's or $10 gift card to Wal-Mart. Funding for these incentives was provided by the campus Student Senate through the Fund Allocation Committee (FAC).

For two weeks, the researchers gave self-administered surveys to be completed privately to encourage honest responses. Students were approached by the researchers in the student's place of residence on campus. On two different days per week (Wednesdays from seven to nine in the evening and Fridays from seven to eleven in the evening), the researchers went door-to-door in student dorms handing out surveys to any student present (surveys were collected from five resident halls). Each participant was given 15 minutes to privately complete the survey. After the allotted time to complete the survey, the researchers collected the survey and consent form. Each form was placed in separate envelopes to ensure the participant’s confidentiality.

Results

Frequencies were conducted to determine the percentage of students’ alcohol behaviors, attitudes, and support of their campus alcohol policies. A Pearson Correlation Coefficient was conducted to determine if students’ support of their campus alcohol policy, students’ attitude towards drinking, students’ current use of alcohol, and students’ consumption of alcohol within the past 30 days are linearly related in the sample of students (N = 210). A one-way ANOVA was also conducted with the factor being support or not support of student’s campus alcohol policies. The dependent variables were students’ current use of alcohol, students’ alcohol consumption within the past 30 days, and students’ attitudes towards drinking alcohol. These results supported the hypothesis.

Participants were asked “which statement about drinking best represented your attitude,” “during the past 30 days, on how many occasions did you consume alcohol,” “current use of alcohol,” and students' “support about their campus alcohol policies.” Table 1 presents the frequency in percentage of each response:

Table 1: Survey Responses

Drinking Behavior and Attitude Questions %
Which Statement about drinking do you feel best represents your attitude?  
-Drinking is never a good thing 14.0
-Drinking is alright but a person should not get drunk 69.1
-Occasionally getting drunk is okay as long as it does not interfere with academics or other responsibilities 16.4
-Frequently getting drunk is okay if that is what an individual wants to do 0.5
 
During the past 30 days, on how many occasions did you consume alcohol?
-Never 80.5
-1-2 times 14.3
-3-5 times 3.8
-6-9 times 1.0
-10-19 times 0.5
 
Current use of alcohol
-Abstainer 71.0
-Abstainer/former problem drinker in recovery 3.8
-Light drinker 24.5
-Moderate drinker 0
-Heavy drinker 0
 
Support of students’ campus alcohol policies
-Too lenient 2.9
-About right 49.3
-Too strict 44.0
-Don’t know 3.9

Correlation coefficients were computed among students’ support of their campus alcohol policy, students’ attitude towards drinking, students’ alcohol consumption within the past 30 days, and the students’ current use of alcohol. The correlation between students’ support of their campus alcohol policy and their current use of alcohol was statistically significant, r = 0.26, p < 0.001. The correlation between the students’ current use of alcohol and their attitudes towards drinking was statistically significant, r = 0.28, p < 0.001. The correlation between students’ consumption of alcohol within the past 30 days and their support of their campus alcohol policy was statistically significant, r = 0.21, p < 0.01. The correlation between students’ consumption of alcohol within the past 30 days and their attitude towards drinking was statistically significant, r = 0.26, p < 0.001. Results of the correlational analyses showed that each of the variables was significantly related to each other.

The results for the ANOVA also indicated statistically significant results. There was a significant mean difference between those who agreed with their campus alcohol policy (M = 1.15, SD = 0.45) and those who did not agree with their campus alcohol policy (M = 1.41, SD =0.76) on the students’ consumption of alcohol within the past 30 days, F(2) = 5.17, p < 0.01. There was a significant mean difference between those who agreed with their campus alcohol policy (M =1.31, SD = 0.67) and those who did not agree with their campus alcohol policy (M = 1.77, SD =0.97) on students’ current use of alcohol, F(2) = 7.87, p ≤ 0.001. There was a significant mean difference between those who agreed with their campus alcohol policy (M =1.87, SD = 0.54) and those who did not agree with their campus alcohol policy (M = 2.23, SD =0.59) on students’ attitudes towards drinking, F(2) = 10.23, p < 0.001. Results of the ANOVA showed that the differences between means of the variables were statistically significant.

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