Student Affairs Receives National Recognition for Innovative Alcohol Awareness Campaign
Sobering statistics on the effects of alcohol consumption on health, grade point average and finances informed a pioneering campaign at Bentley University that could serve as a national model. The Choose OneLess program, which encourages students to take one less alcoholic drink per social occasion, was named as the 2014 Grand Gold winner of the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) Excellence Awards.
Each year NASPA recognizes the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration. From the hundreds of submissions, 33 are recognized in 11 categories. From there, three are selected as the top programs in the country with Choose OneLess being named the top in the country.
“We’ve never tried to pretend the real world doesn’t exist; that’s not the Bentley model,” says Vice President for Student Affairs J. Andrew Shepardson. “Students — whether they choose to drink or not — will go out into a word where alcohol may be present. If they choose to drink, we want them to be responsible.”
The audience for the OneLess initiative may be surprising: It is not binge drinkers but students who choose to drink moderately.
“These are students who experience the greatest number of consequences from drinking, but often don’t recognize their choices as risky,” explains Jessica Greher Traue, senior assistant director of Bentley’s Center for Health and Wellness and program coordinator of OneLess. In developing the OneLess program, she and members of Student Affairs, Student Conduct and Academic Affairs researched the impacts of drinking. They combined national findings from the Prevention Paradox with Bentley-specific survey data to uncover statistics that include:
• By drinking six beers one night a week, a student consumes nearly 47,000 calories each year — comparable to almost 22 large cheese pizzas
• That same student has a grade point average .11 points below that of peers who have four or five drinks one night a week
• U.S. college students spend about $5.5 billion per year on alcohol
The Choose OneLess campaign involves social marketing, displays, active programs and an academic component in the first-year seminar curriculum — all with the message to reduce consumption. From their research analysis, they found that the average number of drinks consumed per occasion decreased by one drink in both males and females. In 2010, males consumed an average of 7.6 drinks per occasion and in 2012 the average was 6.35. Females reported an average of 4.5 drinks per occasion and in 2012 that average dropped to 3.47 drinks.
In addition to receiving the award at the national conference, Bentley was a part of a poster session with other winners and will be hosting a webinar in the coming months to share the program more widely across the country.
“Having been a member of NASPA for over 20 years this is a tremendous honor,” says Shepardson. “This began as a divisional challenge to find creative and innovative ways to address student needs. Many members of the division of student affairs have been a part of the evolution of this program and I thank all of them for their dedication to our students.”
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Their work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 13,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.
Photo: Jessica Greher Traue and J. Andrew Shepardson (center) accept the 2014 Grand Gold award from NASPA.