This fall, the SAPHE Office is launching an ambitious multimedia campaign to reverse the freshman perception that heavy drinking is the college norm. "The actual level of high-risk drinking is lower than many students think," Wells says. "When freshmen learn that excessive drinking is not as widespread as they assumed, they begin to live down to the actual levels. This social norms approach has been proven to affect the behavior of traditional college-age students."
      The University's social norms campaign is funded by a grant from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Ten New York State colleges and universities have received grants from the OASAS College Norm Misperceptions Program. After their campaigns have been implemented and assessed, the best ideas will be passed along to colleges and universities nationwide. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded a similar program on a national level, granting $8.6 million to six universities with the highest binge drinking rates. Increasing_Social_Options
      When it comes to curbing alcohol and other drug abuse, education isn't the only answer. The University also is increasing alcohol-free social options to stem the tide of students heading for bars and beer parties. "More will be accomplished by entertaining students than by educating them about alcohol," says Mark Chorazak '00, student representative to SU's Board of Trustees. "What drives students to leave their rooms at night is a need to socialize. The University needs more creative, interactive activities, but it should steer away from marketing these activities as alcohol-free. It's noble, but it's the kiss of death if you're trying to reach out to students embedded in the alcohol culture. You have to gear your marketing toward how much fun the event will be."
      Since the University is eager to fund more social activities, "students should stop complaining and step forward with ideas," Chorazak says. "Perc Place, a coffee house with live music in the Schine Student Center, is student-driven. And two years ago, some freshmen came up with the idea of keeping Archbold Gymnasium open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. A lot of people take advantage of that. Students don't go out until late in the evening, so a midnight basketball game or comedy show is great."
      Wells appreciates such student input. "We understand that students want more social options," he says. "We're listening, and we're starting to invest in their ideas."

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