Newsroom Search Newsroom home Newsroom Archive
Purdue News

* Positive Educational Experiences for Purdue Students

November 6, 2007

Purdue survey: Risky drinking down among students

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University program established with the help of a federal grant may be having an effect on drinking among students.

Results from a Purdue survey taken in spring 2007 suggest that slightly fewer students are engaging in risky drinking behaviors. Results were compared to survey data collected in 2006.

More than 4,000 students participated in the survey, and the biggest decline was among first-year students, whose results showed a drop of 5 percentage points for binge drinking in the previous two weeks.

Binge drinking was defined for the survey as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting.

University officials and community members met Tuesday (Nov. 6) to discuss the results of the alcohol, tobacco and drug survey, which was made possible by a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

"This is a great opportunity to provide information to our campus and community partners," said Tammy Loew, health advocacy coordinator in the Student Wellness Office. "The U.S. Department of Education grant enables us to develop new collaborations, ideas and directions that will continue to make Purdue a healthy and safe environment for our students."

The grant funds a program called Positive Educational Experiences for Purdue Students, which is designed to reduce high-risk drinking among first-year students.

One of its components is a social marketing campaign that debuted during Boiler Gold Rush, a weeklong orientation program for first-year students. The resulting "Dude ... Don't Be an Idiot" videos highlight parental notification, underage consumption, the dangers of alcohol poisoning and alcohol's impact on future opportunities.

The program also has provided support for a series of late-night activities that have taken place at the Recreational Sports Center, such as "Survivor at Purdue" and "Hammer the Hawkeyes."

"These programs offer a fun, safe alternative to students who may have decided to drink otherwise," Loew said. "More than 1,000 students attended the two recent events at the Recreational Sports Center, and we expect that participation in these sorts of programs will continue to increase."

Approximately 20 percent of the more than 4,000 respondents were first-year students. One of the questions was whether they had participated in binge drinking over the past two weeks. Results from that group showed that 36 percent reported binge drinking compared to 41 percent in the 2006 survey.

Looking at all undergraduates, 46.7 percent reported binge drinking, down from the 48.3 percent reporting such behavior in 2006. Nationwide, a 2005 study of nearly 60,000 students from 132 institutions found 47 percent reported binge drinking.

Seventeen percent of Purdue undergraduates reported having driven a car while under the influence in the past 12 months, down from 22 percent in the 2006 survey.

Loew said students living in University Residences report more positive behavior than other students. According to survey results, about 31 percent of students living on campus reported binge drinking during the previous two weeks compared to 43 percent of students living off campus.

On the other hand, Loew said the survey also showed that students living in fraternities and sororities reported more high-risk drinking than elsewhere on campus, with 77.9 percent of students reporting binge drinking.

Purdue's educational program has several components, such as involving parents in prevention efforts, creating collaboration opportunities for campus and community partners, and working more closely with faculty, staff and University Residences in addressing the dangers of alcohol abuse.

The campaign also has awarded a number of $500 mini-grants to faculty and staff to address alcohol-related issues with students. Highlights include a workshop for students in aviation technology to discuss alcohol abuse and its impact on aviation industry careers, educational materials on high-risk behaviors for students in the College of Liberal Arts, and funds for social norms marketing research in the Department of Communication.

Writer: Christy Jones, (765) 494-1089,

Source: Tammy Loew, (765) 496-6780,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

To the News Service home page

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Purdue News Service at