With Alcohol Awareness Week upon us, a concern by many individuals who wish to be involved revolves around a feeling of being all alone. I find many people – professionals, students, community leaders, and others - are interested in doing something, but feel like they don’t know where to turn. One helpful strategy is with a consortium – a group of professionals who share ideas, strategies, research, questions, and more. We’ve had this in Virginia for about 25 years, and organized ourselves into the Virginia College Alcohol Leadership Council (VA CALC).
While VA CALC serves colleges and universities in Virginia our state, we post our initiatives and the content of our presentations for use by anyone. Our group meets twice a year with workshops involving local and national specialists, including ourselves! We also host an annual retreat. Our website also has links to other states’ consortia, and their websites where they exist. See www.vacalc.org for these resources, as well as other background information about our efforts; noteworthy among these are the comprehensive Standards we developed.
At our recent consortium meeting, Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org), offered a very helpful and well-received workshop on college student binge drinking. Called “Communication Strategies for College Binge Drinking Prevention: The Students’ Perspective”, this workshop cited Responsibility.org’s recent research about this high risk behavior. He illustrated this with various types of drinkers, messages that might work, and a wide range of considerations for campus efforts. This is not a ‘top down’ approach, but one that really engages students in the process of message development and delivery. For those are interesting in having strategies that make more of a difference, this presentation’s contents can serve as a starting point for crafting messages or strategies, reviewing current approaches to see if the suggested efforts work for the campus, or adapting parts of the research approach. as well as the VaCALC website.
The important thing with campus efforts is to work as smartly and efficiently as possible – sharing resources, insights, and commitment within a consortium, as well as across consortia, can be helpful in reducing the harmful effects of high risk alcohol use. I believe that, by working together, we can turn the tide on alcohol problems and make our campuses healthier and safer places to study, work, learn and grow.
David S. Anderson, Ph.D.
Professor of Education and Human Development
George Mason University