University receives grant to address
By Dan Heuchert
much fraternity brothers actually drink vs. the perception of
how much they drink will be the focus of a new U.Va. effort supported
by the U.S. Department of Education.
reviewing 107 proposals, the education department chose U.Va.s
among the 14 projects to be funded. The University will use its
two-year, $250,000 grant to develop and implement with
students a comprehensive program to address alcohol abuse
in fraternities and sororities.
program, Preventing High-Risk Drinking Through Greek Environmental
Management GEM for short will offer students
a more realistic picture of what constitutes normal
alcohol consumption, thus reducing the pressure some may feel
to keep up with an inflated perception of how much their peers
similar social-norms campaign, implemented in 1999
among first-year students, sought to drive home the message that
most first-year students consume four or fewer alcoholic beverages
per week, relaying that theme through posters in dorms and the
use of peer educators. That effort, which had some good
measurements, will be expanded University-wide this year,
said Marianne Bell, a health educator with the Universitys
Center for Alcohol and
comprehensive program to address alcohol abuse in fraternities
and sororities proposes to change the role of alcohol in
the Greek culture.
Director, Center for Alcohol
and Substance Education
new Greek community program proposes to change the role
osf alcohol in the culture, said Susan Bruce, the centers
want to improve the health and safety of U.Va. fraternity and
sorority members by developing, enhancing, implementing and evaluating
a comprehensive series of programs, Bruce said.
program has four strategic components education, environment,
enforcement and early intervention and an outcome study
to measure its effectiveness.
Educational strategies include training student risk managers
in each fraternity and sorority chapter, conducting social-norms
marketing within chapters, offering small-group social-norms education
delivered by peers, and providing educational speakers followed
by peer-led discussions.
Environmental strategies include providing alcohol-server intervention
training for students and awarding mini-grants to provide alcohol-free
Enforcement strategies include promoting increased communication
between the existing student-run Party Patrol and the local community,
and providing Party Patrol training for all chapters.
Early intervention strategies include increased use of the nationally
recognized Prime for Life on Campus educational program.
The curriculum, created by the Kentucky-based Prevention Research
Institute, has been taught monthly to U.Va. students referred
by either the student-run University Judiciary Committee, the
Dean of Students office or the Office of Residence Life.
Under the new program, classes may be taught to entire fraternity
or sorority chapters, Bell said.
Center for Alcohol and Substance Education plans to measure the
programs effectiveness, Bruce said. In the first year of
the project, the center will conduct a baseline assessment of
alcohol use, related attitudes, behaviors and consequences. Then
two-thirds of U.Va.s 58 fraternity and sorority chapters
will be randomly assigned to either an intervention group, to
follow the program outlined above, or a control group, which will
follow current guidelines for alcohol education. After a year,
a follow-up assessment will measure change in both groups.
the second year, the programs will be modified based on evaluation
results and be made available to all 58 chapters.