Student Perceptions About Campus Drinking Policies and Potential Impact on Alcohol Consumption
The purpose of this study was to determine a relationship between college students' attitudes toward drinking and support of campus alcohol policies as well as to students' alcohol consumption behaviors. Participants from a small, rural private Christian university in Huntington, Indiana and their specific alcohol policy were assessed in this study. But, generalizations can occur to similar institutions with similar alcohol policies. This study also aimed to determine the percentage of students who violated the alcohol policy. This current study supported the hypothesis that student attitudes of drinking and support of their campus alcohol policies are related to students' adherence to their campus alcohol policies.
Based upon the results, students' attitudes toward drinking and their support of their campus alcohol policies were related. Students who indicated a more lenient attitude towards drinking showed less support of their campus alcohol policies. Students who indicated increasing levels of alcohol use were also more likely to not support their campus alcohol policies. This is consistent with previous research (Marshall, Roberts, & Rutledge, 2011) that suggested that a attitudes regarding campus alcohol policies had an effect on the consumption of alcohol. In addition, Marshall, Roberts, and Rutledge (2011) found that students who indicated support of their campus alcohol policies consumed significantly less than those who indicated opposition to these policies. Essentially, a student’s acceptance and support of their campus alcohol policies might be predicates of a students’ consumption level of alcohol and his or her adherence to policies.This study had one main limitation. The participants subjectively indicated their current use of alcohol as being either "abstainer," "light drinker," "moderate drinker," "heavy drinker," or "problem drinker." In some cases, a participant who indicated that they were an “abstainer” of alcohol also indicated, on a separate question, that he or she consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. Similarly, a few participants who indicated that he or she was a “moderate drinker” indicated, on a separate question, that they did not consume alcohol within the past 30 days. These inconsistencies in responses may have affected results. But in efforts to control for this limitation, a student’s current drinking behavior and consumption of alcohol within the past 30 days were both taken into consideration when running analyses.
Another limitation was the lack of inclusion of students that lived off-campus. Since the researchers only administered the survey's on-campus, the participants did not include those whose permanent residency was not in the residence halls. Campus alcohol policy violations may occur more off-campus in students' homes, where they are less likely to be caught by campus officials. If more off-campus residents were included in this study, results may have showed a change in percentage of students who violate campus policy and a greater variance of drinking behaviors and attitudes. Subsequent research should include on- and off-campus populations.
In conclusion, the results demonstrated that there was a strong relationship between students’ attitudes of drinking, support of their campus alcohol policies, students' adherence to their campus alcohol policies, and students’ consumption of alcohol within the past 30 days. These findings demonstrate that surveying students regarding their attitudes towards drinking and their support of their campus alcohol policy can assists officials in determining where there are needs to be more concentration on developing programs that can portray accurate social norms and provide to those in risk. In hopes to increase campus-wide support for alcohol policies, campus officials should focus more attention on students' drinking attitudes. Campus administration could begin to change these attitudes by educating students on appropriate alcohol use to reduce alcohol-related risks (Saltz, 2011). Further studies can help to determine why students’ attitudes of drinking affect their drinking behaviors. Research should be done in order to comprehend why students’ attitudes of drinking have an influence on the support of their campus alcohol policies.
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