The NESCAC deans administered a survey about alcohol use to all students on campus on Sunday, Feb. 9. The intention of this survey, which was distributed via email, is to understand current students’ alcohol use and the alcohol culture on all NESCAC campuses.
“Your participation in this project, whether a drinker or non-drinker, is critically important and your response is completely confidential, so please answer all questions honestly,” the email reads. “Your contribution is crucial for us to obtain an accurate picture of the role of alcohol in the student experience on our campuses. The results of the common survey will enable us to assess the current state on our individual campuses and then be able to compare those results to true peer schools.”
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley, all NESCAC schools—Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Tufts, Williams, and Wesleyan—administer the survey every three to four years to collect data from the various campuses. The University did not participate the last time that this survey was directed because it was participating in the three-year National College Health Improvement Program project out of Dartmouth, an intensive learning collaborative that aimed to change high-risk alcohol use using a public health approach. However, Wesleyan was the first NESCAC university to distribute the survey this year.
“Because of the similarity of our institutions, NESCAC has been diligently working on high-risk alcohol use on our campuses,” Whaley wrote in an email to The Argus. “Collecting data on a periodic basis is important as we test interventions. We also have peer benchmark data because we are all using the same survey instrument.”
Director of Institutional Research Michael Whitcomb stated that, in addition to the NESCAC-wide survey, the University will be administering two more surveys to all students on campus. The next survey will examine student engagement, while the last is a sexual assault climate survey.
“Given the number of surveys we are administering this term, I am really interested in raising awareness of these efforts to help ensure strong participation (which will help us feel more confident in the reliability of the results),” Whitcomb wrote in an email to The Argus.
Those who administered the alcohol survey hope that the results will allow for the development and implementation of better services, programs, and policies to meet students’ needs.
“High-risk alcohol use is a significant problem on many campuses, including ours,” Whaley wrote. “We are constantly working to develop educational and policy interventions that will reduce high-risk behavior. Tanya Purdy, our wonderful director of WesWell, leads a coalition of Student Affairs staff and student leaders in testing various interventions.”
Participation in each of these surveys are voluntary and all responses will be strictly confidential.