Oct. 8, 2004
Drug/Alcohol Survey Brings New Awareness to Faculty
By Christine Duellman
UW-RF News Bureau
The UW-River Falls Administrative Council gathered Sept. 13 to discuss perceptions from an alcohol and drug survey distributed last fall. What they found was interesting, according to Kevin Syverson from UW-RF Student Health Services.
While 60 percent of faculty and staff have been personally aware of a student whose academic performance has been affected by alcohol or other drug use, nearly 40 did not know how to refer a student for help,
UW-RF Student Health Services distributed the survey to all UW-RF faculty and staff in fall 2003. It covered perceptions of drug and alcohol problems on campus, knowledge of the university’s drug and alcohol policy, and the faculty’s perceived ability to refer students who need help with a drug and alcohol problem.
Some 220 surveys were returned, with a response rate of 31.5 percent. Nearly 80 percent of the respondents know the university has a policy concerning alcohol and other drugs. About 83 percent believe UW-RF is concerned about the prevention of alcohol and other drug abuse.
Last spring, the Survey Research Center at UW-RF conducted follow-up sessions with faculty and staff. These focus groups uncovered several themes, according to Syverson.
• Those who developed relationships with students are more likely to confront them about alcohol or drug abuse.
• Faculty and staff members believe the campus must communicate a commitment to develop, implement and enforce alcohol and other drug policies.
• UW-River Falls’s revised probation/suspension policy is not supportive of anti-drug and alcohol education efforts.
The focus groups suggested that the university should strive to communicate alcohol and other drug policies more clearly and frequently. They also discussed the importance of making the referral process known to the faculty, Syverson said. The UW-RF Alcohol and Other Drug policy is available at http://www.uwrf.edu/policies.
Three UW-RF professional counselors are available for students and faculty at no cost. Students also can get free alcohol and other drug assessments in the community through Kinnic Falls Alcohol-Drug Abuse Services.
Since discussing the survey findings, several efforts are underway, says Syverson. There will be new information and resources available at faculty and staff orientation in addition to more public awareness efforts for the University's counseling services.
The UW-RF Student Health Services Office has a wealth of information available to faculty, staff, students and the community. Contact Alice Reilly-Myklebust or Syverson at 715/425-3293.