Safer Campuses and Communities
SAFER University Interventions
The SAFER California Universities study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), was designed to help identify the most effective ways of preventing and responding to heavy alcohol consumption by college students. The University of California and California State University Systems agreed to participate in this very important study, which was carried out by the Prevention Research Center (PRC) in Berkeley, California.

The study evaluated the potential impact of a “risk management” approach to preventing alcohol-related problems. The research examined the effectiveness of programs designed to identify the situations in which heavy drinking occurs and to prevent or minimize the risks associated with heavy drinking. In the first phase of the project, researchers measured alcohol consumption and problems on 14 campuses, half of which were randomly assigned to carry out the experimental programs and half of which were assigned to continue with their usual programs and policies. Strategies were designed to change risky environments and reduce risky behaviors at off-campus parties. The experimental campuses showed a significant effect in reducing intoxication and alcohol-related problems at community party settings (see AJPM article for results). The second phase of the project had all 14 campuses focusing on off-campus parties and implementing the same intervention (Action Plan). 

This study examined a variety of environmental interventions that can be implemented both on campus and in the communities surrounding the campus. The strategies focus on clear and consistent policies that control availability and promotion of alcohol, discourage heavy drinking at private settings (house parties) and increase the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement of these policies.

The risk management approach is unique as it targets times (fall academic session) and places (off-campus parties). The focus is on reducing intoxication and harm at unruly parties in the community.  Data is used to mobilize stakeholder support. The comprehensive intervention strategy (action plan) uses evidence-based practices that have been proven effective in the general population yet had not been tested in a college community.  

The Action Plan is based on the experience of the first phase of implementation and suggestions from the collaborating university prevention experts. The Action Plan details the objectives needed to accomplish to effectively reduce intoxication and harm related to college student drinking.