Responses to the university’s drug and alcohol survey were low for the second consecutive year, making the information gleaned difficult to generalize.
The survey was sent to students via email in September, asking for information on their alcohol and marijuana usage. A similar survey was distributed in August 2016.
This year’s survey went well, despite some analytical hurdles, said Lesley Black, associate dean of students.
“Students participated, but we had a number of students who did not complete the entire survey. That makes the information harder to analyze because the response rates per question fluctuated so much,” Black said.
About 550 students opened the survey, but only 300 undergraduates finished it, Black said. The number was even lower than last fall when less than 450 undergraduates responded to the survey, according to Student Publications archives.
“The results are somewhat promising, but we need a larger sample size to really get a true sense of our students’ behavior around alcohol and marijuana use,” Black said.
Students were concerned with the true anonymity of their responses much like last year.
Tomi Vetter, piano performance freshman, said she doesn’t like that students were questioned about the subject.
“I think it’s actually not a good thing that the OCU community is reaching out and asking their students these questions. This information they are asking is relatively personal,” Vetter said.
Vetter also said she doesn’t think students have problems with drugs or alcohol.
“Everyone is really extremely talented and gifted. They wouldn’t let alcohol or drugs get in the way of their education,” she said.
Black said OCUPD was not involved with the survey and all answers were anonymous.
“We want to know where more education might be needed. We also wanted to compare students’ actual drinking habits to the perceived drinking habits of their peers,” Black said. “Not surprisingly, it appears that our undergraduate students believe their peers are drinking more often and more heavily than they actually are.”
Officials can use information from the survey to focus educational efforts based on the results, Black said.
“We can provide students with more accurate information about their peers’ drinking habits. Social norms research has shown that some students drink or engage in riskier drinking behavior because they mistakenly believe their peers are doing the same,” Black said. “Dispelling that myth may encourage some of our students to abstain from drinking or to reduce the amount of or frequency with which they drink because, as it turns out, not everyone is doing it.”
Lysa Engle, film production junior, said this could be useful information to know.
“If people are going to use these things, they should at least be safe about it. And I think it could only be a problem because it’s prohibited, so people feel scared to get help when they really need to,” Engle said.