The University Record, November 6, 1995

Posters illustrate reality of alcohol use on campus

By Nora Gessert
Faculty and Staff Assistance Program

People are influenced by the behavior of those around them. When people move into a new social setting, they tend to adopt the behaviors of those with whom they most identify, or to whom they feel closest.

In the same vein, people measure their own behavior against the norms of their peers. According to a 1993 study, when it comes to alcohol use, University faculty and staff overestimate how often their friends drink, and even more how often their peers drink. The misperception about actual peer behavior encourages some people to increase their drinking beyond what they would normally do in order to match their perceptions at appropriate levels.

A series of posters, based on data in the 1993 survey, has been developed that reflects the reality of alcohol use by faculty and staff at the University. For example:

 95 percent of U-M staff think social events should have non-alcoholic beverages available.

 86 percent of U-M faculty and staff would not enable a friend or colleague's problem drinking by making allowances or covering up.

 97 percent of U-M faculty and staff have less than two alcoholic drinks per day or do not drink every day.

 95 percent of U-M faculty approve of taking car keys away from someone drunk who wants to drive.

The data indicate that while there are some heavy drinkers at the U-M, the actual number is much lower than the perceived rate. On the positive side, the data indicate that faculty and staff use protective measures to reduce access to alcohol, get assistance and restrain dangerous behavior when it is brought to their awareness.

During U-M Alcohol Awareness Week, Nov. 6-11, the posters will be displayed to raise awareness of alcohol and its effects on faculty and staff. The posters have been distributed to units and departments throughout campus. Additional copies are available at no charge by calling the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, 998-7500.