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What It Seems (WISE) Survey to Examine Student Drinking Attitude and Behavior

IUP students will be conducting WISE (What It Seems)—a short, confidential survey—from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on March 22–26, 2010, at three campus locations: Folger Dining Hall, the HUB, and Stapleton Library.

This group of students is obtaining truthful and honest data about the attitudes and behaviors of other Indiana University of Pennsylvania students when it comes to drinking. With the information collected from this survey, they intend to show their peers the contrast between the perception of drinking on campus to the reality of drinking behaviors.

Although this project is funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, it is a student-driven campaign, run by students, for students, in an effort to obtain accurate and honest peer data. Once the data has been collected, it will be analyzed, and results will be announced later in the Spring 2010 semester.

Prizes will be given out to participants: Roll to win a T-shirt, candy, and other great prizes as a thank-you for your time!

Also, enter to win a grand prize: one of our Amazon Kindles!

Here is more about this grant-funded project and its goals and objectives:

Student-Led Project to Close Gap between Misperceptions and Truth

IUP Students Seek Truth in Student Health Behaviors

High-risk drinking continues to be a major challenge at IUP. According to the 2008 IUP CORE survey, nine out of ten IUP students believe the average student on campus uses alcohol once a week or more—however, the reality is that seven out of ten students drink once or fewer times per week. These misperceptions have led to a campus culture where high-risk use is seen as the norm.

IUP continues to struggle with a decade-old “party school” label. This environmental factor and student demographics contribute to a negative set of behavioral norms, as consistently reinforced by IUP research and assessment data. The 2008 IUP CORE survey documented 76.3 percent of undergraduate students consumed alcohol in the previous thirty days. In terms of social climate, 92.2 percent of IUP students perceive drinking as a central part of the social lives of men and 83.6 percent perceive it to be central to the lives of women. These rates are alarming and shape the culture of alcohol consumption at IUP, making matriculating first-year students and new members of Greek and athletic teams particularly vulnerable. Students are faced with the difficult choices of making healthy, legal decisions about alcohol in an environment that they perceive as less than supportive.

A group of students, including Alyssa Stiles, Megan Stahl, and Shobith Balaram, are seeking the truth about the behaviors of other IUP students when it comes to drinking. Alyssa Stiles is an undergraduate junior who is majoring in Pre-Dentistry. Megan Stahl is a graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program. Shobith Balaram is a graduate student in the MBA program. Ann Sesti, from the Center for Health and Well-Being at IUP, is overseeing the project.

As a group, Alyssa, Megan, and Shobith intend to show their peers the reality of drinking behaviors. They want students to be aware that the information we collect is from a solely student-driven campaign. Although the project is being housed in the IUP Center for Health and Well-Being and is being funded by a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board grant, it is an entirely student-run project.

To gather the facts, they will implement a survey in March. This particular survey has been the result of months of hard work, including trainings, focus groups, and classroom visits.

There are two goals of a social norming project of this sort:

  1. To increase student perceptions to reflect the more realistic view that high-risk behaviors are not the norm, but rather low-risk or abstinence behaviors are the normative behavior
  2. To reduce the onset and prevalence of high-risk drinking and negative consequences of all first-year students as the primary focus, but also for the general student body
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