Newswise — Claims that men binge drink to feel more macho and women drink to feel more equal to men are among the motivations that will be explored over the next two years at the University of North Carolina Wilmington as CROSSROADS, UNCW's substance abuse prevention and education program, seeks to identify, address and change gender-specific attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that contribute to high-risk drinking. "Male and female students have told us that they drink for different reasons. Each gender truly has its own drinking culture. Advertisers have addressed it for years," said Rebecca Caldwell, director of CROSSROADS.
Funded by a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the project titled "Changing a High-Risk Drinking Culture through the Lens of Gender" was one of 20 proposals accepted of the 155 submitted in the grant competition to prevent high-risk drinking among college students.
"This funding allows UNCW to do intense work to identify our students' risks and address them with proven methods of creating culture change. Most of that work will be done by UNCW students, who are trained by us," Caldwell said. "One example of that will be pairs of UNCW male and female students who will facilitate discussions with mixed groups of students to bring out and challenge their gender-based beliefs about drinking. Another example will be a group of male students who will work with other men on campus to challenge the male drinking culture."
Already the recipient of a national award for excellence in year-round alcohol prevention programming from the Inter-Association Task Force, CROSSROADS' new program will focus on challenging the culture of masculinity that perpetuates high-risk drinking, eliminating gender-biased advertising that perpetuates high-risk drinking (e.g., ladies night) and identifying and reducing gender-specific risk factors for high-risk drinking. Expected outcomes include a reduction in the level of high-risk drinking and alcohol-related consequences among students and the development of a program that can be implemented at colleges and universities nationwide.
Program components include gender-specific messages in first-year seminar classes; a summit on masculinity, health, and leadership; a learning community; a gender-based social norms campaign; and a reduction in gender-based alcohol advertising in the Wilmington community. The UNCW Office of Housing and Residence Life, Greek Affairs, and the Center for Leadership, Education and Service have committed to partner with the project components. Matt Mayhew, director of student life assessment, will serve as project evaluator.
CROSSROADS, a program in the UNCW Division of Student Affairs, aims to encourage, support and be integral in the creation of an environment that encourages healthy behaviors through positive social norms, academic engagement and responsibility, a vibrant co-curricular life, and consistent enforcement of campus and community policies. It is dedicated to the advancement of thoughtful and healthy decision-making regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.