Alcohol abuse continues to be one of the most significant problems impacting academics here at SJU. Higher rates of alcohol use and abuse are correlated with:
- higher rates of missed classes
- less time spent studying
- lower GPAs
These are just a few of the negative impacts of alcohol abuse. Lowering alcohol consumption is one effective way to increase academic success in college.
Effective strategies to increase academic success by minimizing the negative impact of alcohol abuse must involve in the entire University community. SJU faculty and staff all have a role to play within the strategic plan to increase academic success and lower incidents of harm related to alcohol use and abuse.
Please review these options below and consider how you can have an impact on the health as well as the academic standing of our campus community.
How to Help Improve Academic Success
Use Your Syllabus: As you create your syllabus to set the norms and expectations for student behavior in the classroom, consider including information on the effects of alcohol abuse on academic performance or resources to help. Here is one examples:
Throughout the semester you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning and may lead to diminished academic performance. Saint Joseph’s University provides services to assist you in addressing these issues. If you need more information about issues relating to alcohol, other drugs or violence, please contact the Office of Student Outreach and Support at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-660-3462.
Enforce Class Attendance: By simply requiring students to attend class, you can help them become better time managers and require them to form healthy habits. National research reveals that attendance in class is the 3rd predictor of academic success – followed only by spending more time outside the classroom on the class materials and spending less time consuming alcohol! (Engs, 1997).
Schedule a Test or Presentation on Fridays: Thursday nights are known to be the beginning of the weekend for some students. Rather than enable this behavior, encourage a focus on academics by scheduling exams on Fridays or the day after a “drinking holiday” such as Saint Patrick’s Day, Halloween or the Superbowl. Another great option under this category is to offer more Friday morning classes.
Schedule a Guest Lecturer: Presentations on an array of issues that intersect with alcohol, other drugs or wellness can be altered to fit your syllabus. Schedule an expert from Student Outreach & Support to speak to your class; either a staff member or a trained Wellness Educator (click here to request a workshop). Social norms and societal impacts of substance use are wide-ranging and can be discussed in any class regardless of major. SO&S staff can address a variety of topics including alcohol or drug policies and laws, substance use disorder as a brain disease, health and nutrition of alcohol, sexual assault or bystander intervention and resources on campus.
Make a Referral: If you notice a student who you think might be struggling, open up the dialogue and suggest they find resources on or off campus to help. Reach out to the Office of Student Success to share your concern. Signs of abuse or addiction include:
- decrease in interest or commitment to classes; declining grades
- missing class
- sleeping in class
- smell of alcohol on breath or clothes
- irritability or aggressiveness especially when discussing issues around alcohol
- difficulty concentrating; use of stimulants to study
Take Advantage of Teachable Moments: When alcohol or drug-related events occur in the media or when partying comes up in a pre-class discussion, utilize that time to promote healthy and responsible choices. Use your influence as an authority to share statistics or challenge the misconceptions of alcohol’s role in campus life. Glamorize those who don’t use alcohol or drugs.
Curriculum Infusion: In addition to promoting attendance at educational events hosted outside of the classroom that fit the syllabus, Faculty can seamlessly integrate wellness based, alcohol or drug-related content into the curriculum of just about any course. Create an assignment or a research project, examples include:
- In a writing course: assign a reflection paper utilizing the Jesuit 5 stage reflection model to address personal choices made around alcohol or drugs or the role of alcohol in campus culture
- In a business marketing course: have the class review marketing techniques of alcohol distributors on a college campus
- In a criminology course: research the war on drugs and the impact on those who use alcohol compared to other drugs
- In a theology course: research the connection between alcohol and religion throughout history
Join the Advisory Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Student Health: The Assistant Director of Student Outreach & Support coordinates an Advisory Council of faculty, staff and students to examine the University system around alcohol use and abuse. As a member of the Council, faculty can exercise leadership in proposing new initiatives to change the campus climate.
The Advisory Council is the group that put on the Alcohol Summit in Spring 2016 where research and data from national resources as well as SJU students was shared. We had many faculty and staff attend either the large Summit or the small group Dig Deeper series which delved into the various topics addressed at the Alcohol Summit. You can find all the slides from the Alcohol Summit, the compilation of notes taken during the Summit and the Dig Deeper series, and videos of the presentations on the Alcohol Summit webpage.
Utilize Your Own Research: As faculty members, you are contributing to the field by the way of new information and research. Through you research, help us learn how to prevent alcohol abuse on campus or how to help those who are struggling with substances. We are always looking for new partners and have data that is just waiting to be analyzed!