Social Norm Alcohol Campaign launched

Wake Forest University’s Office of Wellbeing works to provide students with prevention support and partnerships in order to maintain a safe, healthy environment.

This past fall, the Office of Wellbeing under Dr. Malika Roman Isler has initiated the Social Norm Alcohol Campaign. This campaign, however, is a nationwide program working toward researching and educating college students about social alcohol norms on campus.

There is a concerning drinking culture whereby students are misusing alcohol and drinking too frequently. The prominence of the issue varies between colleges.

“Alcohol misuse is a national problem,” Roman Isler said. “However, Wake Forest has never been an institution that conforms to national standards; we believe in setting them.”

With this in mind, Thrive and the Office of Wellbeing have begun their campaign to focus completely on Wake Forest students this fall. The campaign at Wake Forest targets first year students. Administration and faculty hope that through this campaign, there will be a safer, healthier drinking culture on campus.

While it is possible this campaign could be enforced for all students, Roman Isler spoke as to why it focuses on freshmen.

“Often, as students make the transition from high school to college, they have to find a healthy balance between what they expect college life to be like and the reality of what it is,” Roman Isler said.

Understanding this balance also requires students to recognize the influence of other students. Students may engage in excessive and frequent drinking because they believe everyone behaves in accordance to that stereotype.

“Oftentimes, students overestimate the amount and frequency of drinking among their peers, and underestimate how common abstinence and responsible drinking occur,” Roman Isler said.

Through this campaign, she, along with other administration and faculty members hope to correct these misconceptions. That process may prove to be easier than expected as the data collected shows students’ alcohol use is not aligned with their peers’ behavior.

While there is a good basis for Thrive to approach the situation, there is still a large number of students who do not realize their actions of overuse, “are not congruent with what is safe and desirable for many members of our campus.”

Through this campaign, administration and faculty will be able to better educate students on what is appropriate.

Roman Isler clarifies that while there are a group of students who do not reach the standards of Wake Forest social habits, for the most part, there was no alarming research about drinking norms. She believes the information from both groups will help promote different prevention support opportunities.

The campaign at Wake Forest has proven to be successful thus far. Students who received the campaign have been recorded to be more likely to ask for help, eat throughout drinking, track the number of drinks and know a way to get home. Most importantly, however, these students, “have fewer drinks on an occasion compared to students who did not receive the campaign.”

These statistics reassure faculty and administration alike. With the campaign showing a positive impact, faculty and students are going to offer more programs and seminars to further educate.

Roman Isler states these opportunities will provide, “training to help students identify and safely intervene when harm might occur to them or those around them, or tools for stress management other than alcohol use.”

The Office of Wellbeing, administration, faculty, staff and students are hopeful for continued campaign success. With such success in the upcoming semesters and years on campus, students will be more knowledgeable about social alcohol norms and will inevitably lower the concern of the drinking culture at Wake Forest.