Student binge drinking down, CORE Survey says

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

The results of Simpson College’s annual CORE Survey, sent to all students during the spring, were released this past summer.

The survey, which has been conducted every year since 1993, is meant to show the perception and actual data regarding alcohol and illegal substance usage on Simpson’s campus.

“It’s a national survey to address drug and alcohol usage and perceived usages,” Stephanie Krauth, associate dean of students, said. “It’s done at all colleges across the country, both large and small.”

This year’s survey, conducted online by Simpson students, indicated similar statistics from 2007 in most of the categories, with many staying the same or increasing or decreasing slightly.

One area in which there was a significant decrease was in the amount of binge drinking on campus. In the 2007 survey, 56 percent of students reported binge drinking two weeks prior to taking the survey. This year that number decreased to 42.7 percent.

“It’s really exciting when you see those numbers go down,” Krauth said.

According to Krauth, Simpson e-mails the survey to all students during the spring semester. The 2008 survey had 254 participants. Last year 195 students participated.

Krauth attributed this to the timing of the survey’s release. In 2007, the survey was distrubuted in April when many students had already left for May Term. This year it was moved up to March.

“The number depends on when we offer it,” Krauth said. “Typically, we’ve had 200 to 300 people participating. This is where we’d like to be at.”

Once Simpson receives the data from the survey, they publicize the results to try and make students aware of their perception and the actual truth.

“They [the surveys] give us a sense of our students’ habits and how these habits compare nationally,” Krauth said.

Simpson publicizes these results through different mediums. One way is by creating magnets that state various statistics from the survey. One states, “82.9 percent of Simpson students have not performed poorly on a test or major project due to alcohol use.”

Another states that. “42.9 percent of Simpson students under 21 chose not to drink the last 30 days.” The CORE Survey is listed as the source on all the magnets.

There are also other ways Simpson uses the data to dispel perceptions.

“I had a destination leader this year that put together a program for their LAS group,” Krauth said.

The destination leader, junior Amy Gookin, used the survey as the basis for a lecture she gave the students.

“We [destination leaders] try to tell first-year students about the issues that they will encounter,” Gookin said. “I think it’s important for first-year students to realize what’s going on.”

Gookin said she hopes students see the value of the survey.

“I would hope that they would learn about it from being a first-year student,” Gookin said.

Gookin also stresses the importance of the survey.

“I think it is necessary for the college to know what is going on,” Gookin said. “I think it is great for students to see what their peers are doing and what their peers perceive is going on.”

Residence Life also helps in promoting the survey results. Luke Behaunek, first-year area coordinator, created a bulletin board about the survey last year.

“We like to inform students about alcohol use at college,” Behaunek said. “The CORE Survey was a good way to do that since it used actual Simpson data.”

Behaunek incorporates the survey results into several programs for the freshman students.

“We also used the survey to provide alcohol education information for a mock party that we held early this year for our first-year students,” Behaunek said.

Behaunek also believes that the survey will surprise many people.

“I think students will find many of the statistics surprising,” Behaunek said. “Many of them don’t align with the perceptions that are on campus.”

Simpson’s community strongly believes in the CORE Survey and its results.

“The CORE Survey is important to us,” Behaunek said. “We encourage students to take it in the spring and watch for advertisements for it.”