A few semesters ago, Temple’s Drug and Alcohol Referral and Education (DARE) program conducted a two-month investigation in an attempt to change beliefs the group feels are false.
Program officials said that among students, especially underclassmen, misperceptions abound about drug and alcohol use on campus. Concerned about students’ misperceptions of its mission, the program officially changed its name to avoid confusion with the national police-sponsored DARE program. The education and counseling program Tuesday changed its name to Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness (CASA).
“We’d like to get the first year students’ responses and perceptions because they’re brand new on campus, and so we want to see what they think as opposed to people who have been here on campus,” said Lori Vargo, CASA assistant coordinator.
CASA surveyed 1,347 undergraduate students concerning their use of drugs and alcohol and what they believed was the normal practice among the rest of the student body — more than 30,000 undergraduates. CASA representatives visited classrooms of different academic areas and age levels to create an accurate sample of the undergraduate student body.
Aside from questions about drugs and alcohol, students anonymously answered questions about their age, race, academic year, activities and residence.
The public result of the student survey is CASA’s misperceptions campaign.
Seen on activity boards all around campus, misperceptions campaign posters sport a fictitious character, such as the Tooth Fairy, along with the statistics from the survey:
*73.5 percent of Temple University students do not binge drink.
*88 percent of Temple University students did not use marijuana in the past month.
*62 percent of Temple University students use alcohol less than once a week.
These results are more promising than those from a survey put out by the Harvard School of Public Health last year, CASA officials said.
Of the 14,000 students interviewed nationwide, 44 percent of them said they were binge drinkers (a binge refers to finishing five or more drinks in one sitting).
Another survey done by the Core Institute in 1998 showed that athletes were more prone to drinking than other students. The statistics showed that among males, athletes drink five times more than other males. Female athletes, on the other hand, have one more drink per week than other females.
Temple students have mixed opinions about the results of the misperception survey.
“I don’t really think it’s accurate,” said Elise Wisneski, a freshman with undeclared major. “I don’t think people answered the questions honestly.”
Ironically, these are the opinions CASA’s misperceptioons campaign seeks to overcome. “I find it incredibly hard to believe,” said Latasha Williams, a freshman Biology major. “I see [drug and alcohol use] every day in the dorms.”
But Rob Adams, a freshman Communications and Theater major, feels that the survey is accurate: “The percentage of students that binge drink doesn’t surprise me at all ’cause all of the people I hang around with, that I know personally, we barely even drink at all.”
CASA will conduct misperception surveys again next fall to determine changes in student behavior.