On March 1, the NESCAC Alcohol Survey will be administered to students at Bowdoin and nine other NESCAC schools. Trinity is the only institution that has elected not to participate this year. 

The survey, administered every three years, was first implemented in 2012 and was coordinated by Bowdoin. This year Tufts will coordinate  the survey, compile the data and share the results with its peers over the summer. 

Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster said that this survey will strongly resemble the previous one in terms of content, consisting of both qualitative and quantitative questions about student’s decisions pertaining to alcohol use on campus. 

Among NESCAC schools, Bowdoin had the highest response rate, at 79 percent, for the last survey.

“I think the sample is plenty large enough for us to feel like it gives us a pretty good indication of behavior and practices revolving around alcohol on campus,” said Foster. 

Information from the last survey was used in the fall of 2012 to implement new alcohol education programs such as Alcohol Screening Day. Peer Health also expanded its Peer 2 Peer program by meeting with students individually at the beginning of their first year at Bowdoin to discuss the College’s drinking culture. 

Programs such as CHOICES and the Alcohol Team (A-Team) have increased their programming on campus since the survey to better address the needs of the student body.

Associate Director of Health Promotion Whitney Hogan said that most of these programs have been very well attended and have certainly played a role in influencing the alcohol culture on campus. 

“I would say—anecdotally—that I have seen less transports over the last few years,” said Hogan. 

Based on what she has observed on campus, Hogan said that this reduction may be related to students’ willingness to call Security and Security’s willingness to do health and wellness checks. 

“I think also a broader conversation that has been happening on campus around students thinking about alcohol use in terms of respect versus disrespect—both respecting themselves and respecting the people around them,” said Hogan. 

In 2012, 93 percent of students reported that they believed Bowdoin’s alcohol policy encouraged seeking help from Security or other staff members, compared to only 77 percent at other NESCAC schools.

“I think the best way to cause change on a small campus is to get students talking about a specific issue and I think there’s more conversation about alcohol and alcohol use now than there was a handful of years ago,” said Hogan. 

Additionally, 42 percent of students reported drinking occasionally in 2012, while 41 percent said they drank often.

By comparing the results of the last survey with this year’s results, the College will be able to see the impact that these programs have made on campus.
Both Foster and Hogan said that the results of this year’s survey will be used to think about how to approach alcohol education going forward. 

“I think we have to wait and see what the data tells us, but there were some interesting and somewhat surprising results last time that were then helpful for us,” said Foster. 
Along with the data from its own student body, Bowdoin receives the data of other NESCAC schools, without those schools being identified. Foster said that this aspect does not diminish the importance of the data.

“These are peer schools of ours and so we can see how we compare to schools that are populated by similar students,” said Foster.

“While we don’t know specifically who the other schools are, we get a good sense of how we compare to other individual NESCAC peer schools in certain categories,” he added.

Although Trinity participated in 2012, this year it has decided against participating. Both Wesleyan and Amherst did not participate in the previous survey but will take part this year. 

“I think that we have a really robust program on campus compared to a lot of other colleges,” said Hogan. “I would say that in general we’re doing more to tackle dangerous and disrespectful alcohol use than other campuses are.”

Meg Robbins contributed to this report.