According to a survey from two years ago, 50 percent of Keene State College (KSC) students feel that alcohol use is a problem on campus.
This statistic was posted in each residence hall’s Facebook page and each class’ Facebook page, along with the link screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/keenestate, which allowed students to participate in a health screening. The post was made by the Coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drug, Prevention, Treatment and Education Services Michelle Morrow in honor of National Collegiate Alcohol Screening Day, which was April 6.
This is Morrow’s second year working at KSC. She said a big piece of her position is coordinating drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services, coordinating with different offices and making sure students have education around drugs and alcohol in general.
She coordinates the Alcohol Wise Program, which incoming students are required to take and she works in collaboration with student conduct when a student violates an alcohol or drug policy.
Morrow also said she tries to collaborate with community resources for students and there are a few in Keene. Some of these include 12-step meetings, Monadnock Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coalition (MADAC), Monadnock Voices for Prevention (MVP) and the New Hampshire Treament Location where one can put in exactly what they are looking for for services.
In terms of the Facebook post itself, Morrow said the post was created to give students who took the survey feedback of their drinking behavior.
“The purpose of the post was to make sure the students knew about the screening and to get students to take it, and we did actually have a good number of students; we had like 45 people complete it.”
The statistic of 50 percent of students finding an issue with alcohol use on campus came from an alcohol survey conducted two years ago with about 650 students participating.
Morrow said the results were surprising. For example, 15 percent of students said they never drink, but students perceived that as only 3 percent never drink.
Rather than assuming that every college student has a drinking behavior, Morrow said she wanted to emphasize the fact that among college students and among society as well, there is a range of behavior.
“There are a good chunk of students who either don’t drink or who may drink and it’s infrequent or they are very careful and responsible about it, and there’s a stereotype, I think, that all college students drink and that all college students drink heavily and that’s just far from the case.”
Having said that, Morrow said there is still a small percentage of students who are drinking frequently and who are drinking heavily. She said she thinks that is why the post was important because it emphasizes the way that potential substance use can impact the environment around a student. Effects can include not only a student’s physical health, but also the people around them, such as their roommates or suitemates who may get woken up.
Morrow said occasionally she witnesses students drinking when she drives around the campus area, but she says she doesn’t see it a lot.
“More often what will be the case is I’ll meet with a student individually if there has been an incident, so that’s really how I’ve come to go about things… our approach in the Counseling Center is not a ‘Just say no,’ approach at all. It’s really about just trying to have student awareness and have students make decisions that are not going to cause effects for them.”
Morrow said she thinks it is important to remember that overusing drugs and alcohol is an issue in society in general, not just college. “I think that one thing that plays into it is there is this sort of negative stereotype of college as a time when people are going be drinking a lot and using substances a lot and I think that primarily comes from just the media, movies, songs and TV shows; they sort of perpetuate this stereotype.”
KSC senior and psychology major Nicole Grazewski is an intern for Morrow.
“I do the education and outreach program, so we do a protective behaviors event in the dorms each week and then we were doing a ‘Why Not?’ table which was with the statistics from that survey. It’s a lot of talking with students and stuff like that,” Grazewski said.
Grazewski said prior to learning information from her internship, she thought the problem of alcohol use was worse than it was. She said that’s what they find a lot, that people are misperceiving how much students are using.
She also said that her internship has allowed her to learn about the services and resources around Keene.
“There are a lot of services and resources you can go to. I just think they need to be displayed more, which is something we talk about, like making things more well-known with the student body,” Grazewski said.
All in all, Grazewski said, “I feel like [my internship] is going really well and the things we do, students seem to like and find informative.”
KSC senior and psychology major with a minors in addictions Haley Monkton works for Owls for Recovery.
She works with Dante Diffendale and has helped spread the word on campus.
She said in an e-mail with The Equinox that she joined the student organization because of her internship with Michelle Morrow and partly because she is also a student recovering from addiction. Monkton said she will have seven years of recovery in June.
“I knew that there were no such groups for recovering folks on campus and I wanted to join in the effort to create an organization that provided support and events for students in recovery,” Monkton stated. “The fact that there isn’t such a group is unfortunate because it serves so many purposes. Not only is it an avenue of support for recovering students, but their allies as well; the group has talked about creating events on campus that are not only for awareness of the effects of AOD (alcohol and other drugs), but sober events that students who choose not to drink, but aren’t necessarily in recovery, can attend.”
Monkton stated these events are good for for the entire college community, but to also note that Owls for Recovery is not a support group.
“It’s a group for students with the commonality of either choosing not to drink [and do drugs], being in recovery or being an ally of someone in recovery to come together and create positive action around drinking and drug use on campus,” Monkton stated.
Being an off-campus commuter student for her entire career at KSC, Monkton stated that the “drinking and drugging environment” hasn’t been a big part of her experience.
“I am assuming just by how much I hear about students partying that it creates some issues for the college. The hope is that Owls for Recovery can help the student body with these and other issues in some way,” Monkton stated.
KSC junior and communication major Kerry Kelley said she didn’t see the survey that Michelle Morrow posted on the Keene State College class of 2018 Facebook page, but said she does think alcohol use is an issue on campus.
“I think it is a problem, especially if it’s on campus in the dorms, that can be scary for the school to deal with if something were to happen, and knowing that 50 percent of students believe it’s a problem in itself,” Kelley said.
Kelley said she really doesn’t know how to control the drinking problems on campus.
“It’s something that’s going to be [a problem] either way because [students] can have someone buy it for them and put it in their room and [the Resident Assistants] can’t go into their room without permission anyways, so I think that’s how they get away with it so easily.”
Kelley also said she thinks the Resident Assistants do a good job controlling a situation when students who have been drinking are too loud.
On a typical weekend, Kelley said she goes out once or twice a weekend, if that.
“On the weekends if I don’t go out, I hang out with my roommates, watch TV, we make dinner and bake.”
The Counseling Center is found on the third floor of the Elliot Center and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for those interested in their services.
Grace Pecci can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org