Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 15, 2015

For this week’s roundup we have the results of three new studies of the causes, prevalence, and consequences of binge drinking.

Brain Protein Appears to Block Binge Drinking

A brain protein called GIRK3 (a member of the “G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium channel” (GIRK) family) may play an important role in moderating binge drinking in mice, according to researchers from The Scripps Research Institute. Based on evidence that the GIRK family can be directly activated by alcohol and the knowledge that the specific protein in question, GIRK3, modulates the effect of drugs such as GHB and cocaine, researchers removed GIRK3 in lab mice then exposed them to alcohol. They observed that the modified mice were more likely to drink to the point of intoxication when given access to ethanol for just two hours a day, a condition meant to mimic a human happy hour (or college party.) These results suggest one possible avenue for pharmaceutical research aimed at addressing binge drinking.

New Study Reveals where Binge Drinking is Most Prevalent

A new study published by the American Journal of Public Health reveals which American counties have the highest rates of binge drinking and heavy drinking amongst adults 21 and over. Heavy drinking, defined as more than two drinks a day for men and more than one a day for women, was most prevalent in Menominee County in Wisconsin, and least common in Madison County, Idaho. Binge  drinking, defined as more than 5 drinks for men and 4 for women in about 2 hours, was most common in Esmeralda County, Nevada, and least common in Hancock County, Tennessee, where just 2.4% of drinking-age adults partook in binge drinking. Overall, the areas with the highest rates of problem drinking and drinking in general were New England, the West coast, and northern parts of the West and Midwest. Click the link above to see maps of problem drinking by county.

Binge Drinking Permanently Damages Developing Brains

Finally, if anyone doubted the dangers binge drinking poses to college students, a new study confirms that the dangers of heavy drinking lie not just in reckless decisions and alcohol poisoning when a student is intoxicated, but also in damage done to the brain that will linger—permanently. Research conducted on lab rats suggests that binge drinking creates permanent, negative changes in the developing brain. Since brain development in humans continues into the mid-twenties, these findings have sobering implications for the consequences of college binge drinking. Rats given alcohol while still in rodent adolescence had impaired memory and learning ability.

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“A Leadership Role”: Interview with Peter Novak [Part 3 of 3]
Posted by On Monday, October 6, 2014

In our last installment from CampusClarity’s interview with Peter Novak, he discusses how colleges and universities can take a leadership role in stopping sexual misconduct and substance abuse by setting goals that may at first seem counter-intuitive.

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Free Posters Address Hooking Up
Posted by On Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Not Everyone Hooks UpIn the popular imagination, college life is a bacchanalia of hook ups, casual sex, and one-night stands. The truth is most students are not hooking up.

According to the latest data from the National College Health Assessment 29.6% of students reported not having any sexual partners in the last twelve months. Another 44.5% reported having only one sexual partner. In other words, most students are not following the hook-up script. Unfortunately, the misperception of college as a free for all still puts pressure on students’ decisions around intimacy and sex.

These posters help draw attention to these popular misconceptions by showing students more accurate information on their peers’ behaviors. With better information, students will hopefully feel freer in their decisions.  These posters empower students to make informed decisions — whether those decisions are to hook up, stay single, or be in a relationship.

Get the posters as PDFs:

(For more on this topic, see our blog post “Rewriting the College Hookup Script.“)

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Free Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop
Posted by On Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop is now freely available on the CampusClarity blog, just click on the links to the materials below:

  1. PowerPoint
  2. Discussion Guide
  3. Handout
  4. Handout Answer Key
  5. Assessment
  6. Assessment Answer Key

Studies show that students consistently overestimate how much and how often their peers drink. Such misperceptions can encourage students to drink more by distorting their views of healthy drinking habits and lending dangerous credence to the classic justification for reckless or unhealthy behavior: “Everyone else is doing it.”

The Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop is one hour of live training that not only helps correct these misperceptions and explores their consequences, but also challenges students to find their own ways to correct such misinformation on their own campuses.

If you like this workshop and want more like it, check out our Bystander Intervention Workshop and our Party Smart Workshop.

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Free Party Smart Workshop
Posted by On Wednesday, May 7, 2014

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month we made our Bystander Intervention workshop freely available here on the CampusClarity blog. That workshop was so well received that we’ve decided to publish another one on Partying Smart strategies. Like the Bystander Intervention workshop, the Party Smart Workshop includes a PowerPoint, handout, assessment, and discussion guide.

Download the materials here:

  1. Party Smart TAI PPT
  2. Party Smart Discussion Guide
  3. Party Smart Handout
  4. Party Smart Handout_Answer Key
  5. Party Smart Assessment
  6. Party Smart Assessment_Answer Key

The Party Smart Workshop focuses on strategies for safe, smart drinking. While total abstention is an effective strategy for many students (surveys show that over 20% of college students have never used alcohol at all), some students do choose to drink. That’s why it’s important that students learn strategies for responsible drinking.

These materials cover crucial information about alcohol and its effects on the body, outline effective strategies for safe drinking, and challenge students to formulate their own plans for partying smart. Please feel free to use them however you see fit, and to share them with anyone you think could make good use of them.

We’ll be releasing more materials in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more free resources!

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A Powerful Message
Posted by On Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don’t let her slight stature fool you. Katie Koestner, who led the initiative to establish The Take Back the Night Foundation, delivers a powerful message, telling students to “speak up and stand strong” against sexual violence.

This week she was the keynote speaker at a Sexual Assault Awareness Month event at the University of San Francisco. Koestner told the audience her story of being date raped when she was an 18-year-old college freshman. She recalled vivid details like what she was wearing, what her date was wearing, how he ordered champagne for them at a French restaurant in French, how they went back to her dorm room and danced, and how he pushed her to the floor and raped her.

Though she reported the assault to college administrators and her attacker was found responsible for a student conduct violation, the punishment meted out was merely to ban him from her residence hall for one semester.

Instead of staying silent at a time when sexual assault was rarely talked about, Koestner was the first survivor of date rape to speak out nationally. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC Nightly News, MTV, CNBC Talk Live, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, CNN, and many other news programs. In 1993, HBO made the docudrama “No Visible Bruises: The Katie Koestner Story.”

At the USF event, Koestner told the audience that after the assault her life hit rock bottom, but “I am fearless now” because “I have felt like a nothing … nonexistent.” Her goal is to reach the point where speaking out about sexual violence and respecting those who have the courage to tell their stories is the norm. More than twenty years later she is still passionate about motivating students: “advocating for our own self-respect will change the world.”

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When Students Are Also Employees
Posted by On Thursday, April 3, 2014

Early this week, we wrote about “costly” unpaid internships. But lawsuits over unpaid internships are only the first tremors in the shifting landscape of student workers.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) just ruled that football players at Northwestern University who receive scholarships are employees of the school and can unionize. The Northwestern case is one of several that might change the nature of college athletics.

In arguing against the athletes’ bid to unionize, Northwestern cited a 2004 decision by the NLRB that declared graduate assistants at Brown University were not employees and therefore could not unionize. The NLRB concluded in the Brown case that the graduate students’ work assisting faculty members was related to their academic studies and hence they were “primarily students,” not employees.

In distinguishing between the student-athletes and graduate students, the NLRB determined in the Northwestern case that the relationship between the university and the athletes was economic — not educational — based on the fact that the athletes’ football duties are unrelated to their academic studies. Therefore, unlike the graduate students, the athletes were not “primarily students.”

Detailing weeks in which the athletes spent up to 50 to 60 hours on football, the board declared:

Not only is this more hours than many undisputed full-time employees work at their jobs, it is also many more hours than the players spend on their studies…Obviously, the players are also required to spend time studying and completing their homework…But it cannot be said that they are “primarily students” who “spend only a limited number of hours performing their athletic duties.”

Though Northwestern will appeal the decision, it already seems to be affecting how some colleges approach their athletes. Stanford, for instance, sent out a memo to its coaches and staff members on how to respond — or not respond — to the NLRB’s ruling.

Indeed, over at the Title IX Blog, Erin Buzuvis speculates on how the ruling might affect Title IX: “I believe that if the decision results in actual bargained-for benefits for student-athletes of one sex, Title IX would continue to require that such benefits inure equally to student-athletes of the other sex.” Buzuvis continues:

This outcome will surely seem weird to many people…But that’s the consequence of…running a profit seeking business enterprise while receiving federal support and non-profit status. With the latter comes the obligation to comply with civil rights laws like Title IX. And now, with the former, comes the obligation to comply with employment and labor law as well.

As Lloyd Cotsen and Lauren Gaydosh  have pointed out, the Northwestern case provides an opportunity for the higher education community to reflect on the proper balance between the students’ education and their campus work experience:

Regardless of legal definitions all students engaged in campus-related work deserve proper protections and regulations…The NLRB ruling should not scare us but instead encourage careful thinking about how to avoid exploitative student labor and preserve a meaningful campus work experience.

The decision, then, is an opportunity for schools to reflect on how they can help ensure a healthy work-life balance for students, one that fosters a positive campus environment for everyone.

UPDATE (8/27/2015): On appeal the NLRB declined to assert jurisdiction — a decision effectively denying the players the right to unionize under the NLRA. 

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, March 21, 2014

For the last several weeks we’ve been covering an ongoing national conversation about the dangers and advantages of Greek organizations on college campuses. This week, three stories illustrate the fact that the problems and dilemmas posed by Greek fraternities are not unique to that particular brand of student groups, or even the United States.

Black Fraternities’ Hazing Problem

Most of that ongoing national conversation has focused on fraternities that are largely white, heterosexual, and, naturally, entirely male. But of course there are sororities, as well as black, Asian, Latin, and various professional fraternities and sororities. These groups often face different problems than those faced by predominantly white fraternities, but that doesn’t mean that they are problem free, or should be ignored in a conversation about the dilemmas posed by student groups. A good example is provided by this story about hazing and black fraternities—since the beginning of 2014, more than 17 members of black fraternities at three different universities have been arrested for hazing.

Student Co-op’s Drug Problem

Nor are problems like substance abuse limited to student groups with the word “fraternity” or “sorority” at the end of their name. Take, for example, the latest bit of drama coming from U.C. Berkeley, this time out of its student cooperative system, the largest in the country. Cloyne Court, which is itself the largest housing co-operative in the country, recently settled a lawsuit brought by the family of resident John Gibson, who has been in a drug-induced coma since he overdosed while living at Cloyne in 2010. Faced with “unaffordably high” insurance rates, Berkeley Student Cooperative president said, “We need to make a direct response to this settlement to show our efforts to prevent further incidences and liability. A change needs to happen now.” Radical changes to address what they see as a culture of substance abuse at Cloyne, include evicting all but one of the co-op’s current residents, and rebranding it as an academic-themed, substance-free residence.

Portugal’s Hazing Problem

The drowning deaths of six Portuguese university students in a single hazing (or praxes) incident, has sparked a national debate in that country about whether or not the tradition of hazing first-year students should be banned. Unlike in this country, hazing in Portugal is not associated with student groups, but is instead a general rite of initiation for incoming students, demonstrating that the inclination towards reckless behavior amongst young people is one that cannot be solved simply by targeting specific, or even all, student groups.

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Posted by On Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Welcome to the CampusClarity blog.

At CampusClarity, our expert team helps colleges and universities maintain a healthy campus climate and comply with the law. This blog is our newest effort.

In these posts, we will discuss major compliance developments. We will navigate the laws, regulations, and best practices that inform campus policies. We will cover topics ranging from Title IX and the Campus SaVE Act to child-abuse reporting, professional ethics, and harm-reduction strategies.

Enacted in March 2013, the Campus SaVE Act has expanded higher education crime reporting requirements and education programs for students and employees. Now more than ever, schools must improve campus safety and compliance. In a small way, this blog will help.

We welcome your feedback. Help us improve our comprehensive harm-reduction program and make this blog a valuable compliance resource.

The CampusClarity Team

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