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Practitioners in college alcohol prevention recognize the value of student involvement in reshaping the campus drinking culture. Students are our focus for interventions and our greatest asset when exploring ways to reach their peers. Over the past few years, we’ve had a unique opportunity to observe firsthand the innovation and creative energy that student engagement generates. A national student ad campaign competition sponsored by The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility in 2009 provided the catalyst that sparked a cultural shift on our campus. The Less Than U Think campaign, developed by students, created a powerful dynamic in which other students sought opportunities to participate in an anti-binge drinking initiative; a fete rarely attained in alcohol prevention work.

The gift from the Less Than U Think campaign is that students were pointing out to their peers the practical social consequences of excessive binge drinking, i.e. the all too common experience of saying the wrong thing, or the embarrassment of inappropriate or hurtful behavior, or the harm to one’s close friends. The sometimes funny, somewhat dramatic posters and situations demonstrated throughout the campaign encouraged students to think about how they personally want to be seen and remembered, engaging them through the importance of social venues in their lives as students. In the end, everyone enjoys laughter, but no one ever really wants to be the target of ridicule. The messages resonated with our students as they successfully got their peers to think better about choices and the outcomes they prefer to live within their varied social settings.

Margaret Garner, Asst. Dean, Health Education & Outreach
Director, Health Promotion & Wellness
Student Health Center
The University of Alabama

Delynne Wilcox, Ph. D., M.P.H.
Asst. Director, Health Promotion & Wellness
Student Health Center
The University of Alabama