Implementing a social norms approach to reduce alcohol abuse on campus: Lessons learned in the shadow of 'The World's Largest Six-Pack'

  • Swanson D
  • Zegers K
  • Zwaska A
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Abstract

Many institutions of higher education are struggling with the problem of excessive alcohol consumption by students. Colleges and universities want to be "good neighbors" in their communities and must limit legal and social risks that result from excessive alcohol consumption by students. At the same time, colleges and universities operate in an increasingly challenging marketplace where many prospective students seek out institutions with a "party school" reputation. Thus, higher education institutions are finding it difficult to define and carry out alcohol reduction measures that satisfy all constituents. This article discusses the approach taken at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. UW-L is an institution that identified a serious alcohol consumption problem and had to address the problem in a community where high levels of alcohol consumption are socially and culturally condoned. The article profiles the UW-L community and discusses the campaign model and strategy chosen. Quantitative and qualitative measures of success are discussed, along with lingering issues of resistance. The article ends with a summary of current issues and future directions being taken by the campaign. © 2004 Elsevier Inc.

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Authors

  • Douglas J. Swanson

  • Kristine M. Zegers

  • Aaron A. Zwaska

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