ALCOHOL SURVEY Online Survey Examines Alcohol Use By Zoe Marks Special to The Hoya

As students spend hours online poring over pre-registration materials, the Office of Student Affairs is hoping that they will also take 10 minutes to complete a survey on alcohol perceptions at Georgetown during the same online process.

The anonymous survey, which consists of 17 alcohol-related questions, a brief demographic portion and seven supplemental questions, is the second such survey Georgetown has issued. Student Affairs, and the Offices of Health Education, Communication and Public Affairs, and Planning and Institutional Research are sponsoring its implementation and analysis.

“We needed clear, comprehensive and definitive data regarding issues relating to alcohol use on Georgetown’s campus,” Dr. Patrick Kilcarr, director of the Center for Personal Development, said. “We want to determine levels of use, student perceptions and attitudes around alcohol use, and over-arching community feelings about drinking.”

To entice student participation and meet or exceed the high response rate achieved in 2000 (over 75 percent), the Office of Student Affairs is holding a random drawing among all respondents for 20 gift certificates of $50 each to the Clyde’s restaurants and a grand prize $500 certificate to the bookstore. Dr. Michael McGuire, the executive director of the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, reports that over 55 percent of undergraduates have already responded to the survey.

Tailored specifically for Georgetown, the questions are based on other existing alcohol surveys and the 2000 survey, which was written with student input. “We basically left the survey intact (with a few tweakings) in 2003, so we [can] see if there has been any change over time in student perceptions,” said cGuire.

The survey is not just informative but it is proactive. New programs have been developed or expanded as a result of the 2000 survey results, including the FRIENDS Initiative, Peer Education, the SMURF Campaign and a renewed emphasis on social events planning both on and off campus.

“Based on the fact that many of the student concerns addressed in the last survey (in the open-ended questions) are currently being addressed . I feel the survey is extremely proactive,” said Kilcarr. “[We are] addressing the needs of our students while at the same time addressing potential harm-related behavior that exists at times with alcohol.”

The Office of Planning and Institutional Research will compile and analyze the data. They hope to share it with survey sponsors by late January, who will then apply and disseminate the results further. Students’ responses will be used to identify changing trends in the use and perception of alcohol on campus. The 2000 results showed Georgetown alcohol use as similar to other colleges and universities throughout the country and reported that 20 percent of students do not drink at all.

In the analysis and application of this year’s results, the Office of Student Affairs will be focusing on changes in behavior and especially on student input from the open-ended questions. Students’ comments will affect university initiatives for the future, such as the possibility of a student space or social cafe in the defunct New South dining hall and the push for more on-campus social activities.

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