U.S. Universities Failing in Alcohol Policy
Alcohol policy experts and researchers have found less than half the approaches to reduce alcohol use and related harm are “most effective.”
The experts rated policies typically included in official campus alcohol policies on their likely effectiveness. The review found Universities are failing in alcohol policy as less than half were found effective. This reviewing method is an evidence-based approach for colleges to use in analyzing and updating their campus alcohol policies.
Written campus alcohol policies are required for all colleges and universities by the federal government in the United States. Underage, binge and heavy alcohol use are serious problems on U.S. college campuses, and many student incidents involving injury and harm have an alcohol component.
In the study, the first of its kind, campus alcohol policies were assessed for accessibility, clarity, policy effectiveness and sanctions effectiveness, for the fifteen members of the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems. The study, published online in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research”, was conducted by researchers of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.
For a campus alcohol policy to be effective, students must be aware of it, must be able to understand it, and it must include policies that evidence suggests will be effective at reducing the availability of alcohol,” said Molly Mitchell, JD, co-author of the study as per John Hopkins news.
Effective alcohol policies for Universities
For the study, the researchers asked a panel of 12 alcohol policy experts and university officials to rate 35 policies and 13 sanctions commonly included in campus alcohol policies. The panelists determined that seventeen, or 49%, of the campus alcohol policies should be rated as “most effective.”
On average, the universities studied had six of the seventeen most effective polices in place, indicating the potential for improvement in schools’ ability to reduce alcohol problems on their campuses.
Policies classified as most effective were those determined by panelists as likely to comprehensively affect the physical and/or normative alcohol consumption environment on campus.
Most effective alcohol policies on campus are:
- Banning alcohol consumption in public places,
- Banning alcohol at student recruitment events,
- Prohibiting alcohol delivery to campus,
- Prohibiting alcohol consumption games,
- Mandatory ID checks at all campus events with alcohol.
The researchers also found that accessibility of the campus alcohol policies could be improved. Many of the policies were spread across websites and difficult to understand.
The outcome for sanctions was more positive: on average, the colleges included four of the five sanctions considered to have the strongest deterrent effect, ranging from parental notification to dismissal from housing.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 1,825 students ages 18-24 attending 2-and 4-year colleges die from alcohol related causes.
Alcohol consumption can impede the health, safety and academic success of students and campus alcohol policies are the first line of defense against alcohol problems on campus,” said Molly Mitchell, JD, co-author of the study as per John Hopkins news.
One way to prioritize the health and well-being of students is for colleges across the U.S. to replicate the research we did and regularly assess and improve their policies.”