Title

Bringing Alcohol on Campus to Raise Money: Impact on Student Drinking and Drinking Problems

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2008

Abstract

Aims Universities are striving to raise funds, often attracting spectators by selling alcohol at campus events. This study evaluates the effect of a policy change on student drinking at a large western university that had historically banned alcohol on campus but transitioned to permitting the sale of alcohol in some of its facilities.

Methods Surveys of student drinking and perceptions of other students’ drinking were conducted before, during and after the policy change at the transition university (TU) and compared to similar data from a control university (CU). Surveys of student drinking at on-campus and off-campus venues and observations of alcohol service practices were also conducted.

Results The policy change at the TU was introduced cautiously, and sales to underage drinkers were relatively well controlled. Despite this, student drinking rose initially, then declined after 1 year. Perceptions of the amount of drinking by other students increased slightly, but there was no overall measurable increase in student drinking during the first 3 years of the new policy.

Conclusions The conservative TU policy—to sell alcohol only at select events and to control sales to minors—may have limited the impact of on-campus alcohol sales on student consumption. Although the study results did not find a stable increase in student drinking, they do not necessarily support the liberalization of campus alcohol policy, because the transition is still ‘in progress’ and the final outcome has not been evaluated.