From binge drinking to blacking out, college drinking can be a dangerous problem. But at MSU, researchers have spent decades studying how to fix the problem.
“When you have the consistency of data that we have collected over 20 years, we’re pretty confident about it,” said MSU Health Promotion Director, Dennis Martell.
A new research study published by the university shows that a marketing campaign has helped reduce high-risk drinking among students.
” We know it’s working when we see students with our t-shirts on, or up in their rooms, or in social media,” he said.
The idea of the campaign is not to tell students to stop drinking, but instead share ways of doing it safely and moderately.
Students on campus say it’s hard to miss the message.
“I’ve definitely seen a lot of posters, especially because I live in the dorms. So they’re definitely all over the RA [resident advisor] boards and bathrooms and stuff,”said student Zephyr Odonnell.
The study suggests that from 2000-2014 the campaign helped reduce the number of students who binge drink by 41 percent.
Researchers say the takeaway is that change takes time.
“The real takeaway is that this is not something that’s going to be a quick fix, said Larry Hembroff,” director of research and evaluation for the National Social Norms Center.
Senior Alfredo Ruiz says he’s learned what’s really important.
“Now i’m a senior, all I want to do is just focus on getting internships, getting a job, building myself and others in my community, and just having my path clear for myself and that’s what students don’t get until they’re like on that boat.”
Freshman Payton Porter says the issue isn’t completely solved–but she’s noticed progress.
“I do think it’s a little bit of an issue within fraternities, but I do think people have gotten a lot smarter. They don’t drink as much because they’ve seen that things can happen because of it.”
Researchers say other schools have tried a similar approach, without similar results.
“Because you’re changing culture, it takes a slow, steady, consistent approach.” Going forward, MSU says it will use the data to help other schools.