Assessing alcohol use, abuse continues statewide

Alcohol use on campus has generated an array of debates, concerns and policy changes this semester. From the serving restrictions at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s to the Alcohol Task Force, alcohol-related issues do not seem to be nearing an end. 

In a recent survey by USF Student Health Services (SHS), 8,000 students between the ages of 18 and 30 were randomly selected to anonymously answer questions pertaining to their alcohol use. The survey also asked students about their use of other drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and LSD.

The purpose of the survey is to increase funding for the prevention of substance abuse, said Holly Rayko, assistant director of SHS Health Promotion.

The survey had nothing to do with the University’s Alcohol Task Force, she said. Instead, it was a part of the Florida Higher Education Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention and came from the CORE Institute, a leading organization in researching and assessing drug and alcohol use and prevention programs.

“This is a statewide initiative — we are just one of 12 to 15 higher education institutions who participated in the survey,” Rayko said. 

The survey is funded by the Department of Children and Families and the research is being conducted by staff from the University of Central Florida, she said.

“The study will estimate young adults’ self-reported rate and frequency of use of alcohol and other drugs as well as estimate the frequency of harms related to substance use,” she said.

Students taking the survey are asked how many times they have missed class, been in a fight or been sexually assaulted. Students are also asked what they think of others’ drinking and how they think others perceive their drinking.

Ultimately, the data will be used to create a statewide alcohol prevention strategy aimed at college-aged people, Rayko said.

Though the survey is anonymous, some students said they found it intrusive and unnecessary.

“I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what I do in my spare time or whether I drink or not,” said Stephanie Englar, a sophomore education major.

Senior music performance major Nick Souder said he probably wouldn’t take the survey unless it was mandatory.

“If it were required, I would sit at home with a beer and take it, honestly,” he said.