Project addresses high-risk drinking among college students

Working closely with Greek Student Organizations

CounselorsIn 2009, the William and Mary School of Education was one of twenty recipients across the country to receive a federal grant to address high-risk drinking and behavior among college students. Now in its second and final year, there is much to share about the great work being done through this project. See original news release.

Project Director, Charles F. Gressard, and Project Coordinator, Jill Russett, both of the School of Education, have been working closely with Greek Student Organizations to support their needs related to alcohol education and program development. A goal of the grant is to reduce high-risk drinking among college students through innovative informational discussion sessions and educational programming. One unique aspect of the program is supporting Greek Chapters to identify their needs related to the issue of high risk drinking and help them to develop a program to match the needs of their members.

Since its implementation, eight sororities and eight fraternities have participated in the program informally called, "On TRACK" or Teaching Responsible Alcohol Choices and Knowledge. The program strongly supports the input and perspective of Greek student member's with the belief that Chapters know best what is needed in their environment. The program has been well received by the Greek community. Members who participated in the program said it was "engaging and kept my attention," "realistic," and felt it was "good to be honest." 

On TRACK provides fact-based information about drinking with the goal of sparking candid and open discussions about high risk tendencies and trends among college students and individual Greek Chapters. During open discussions, students have the opportunity to talk with their fellow fraternity or sorority members about high risk drinking behaviors, how to take care of themselves or others if they consume too much alcohol, the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine, ways to approach a friend who may have a drinking problem, medical amnesty, legal issues, and other topics rarely discussed elsewhere. Once upperclassmen have met with Russett, they are encouraged to return to their Chapter and co-facilitate a peer led session (with the support of On TRACK staff) with their younger members. We believe these candid discussions infused with practical education will ultimately lead to a change not only in attitudes toward drinking, but also result in a change in drinking behavior. One student said it best: "I enjoyed the seminar structure of the program and felt I learned things I hadn't previously known. The program was realistic, pragmatic, and entertaining. Way to go, On Track!"

Finding new and creative ways to deliver alcohol education to college students is challenging to say the least. Our program strongly values student input first through focus groups that solicit relevant information on the high risk drinking behaviors and motivation, followed by peer led education programming run by upperclassmen to select chapter members. We were excited to hear one student say this was the "best alcohol program I've participated in so far. [Having] upperclassmen and the relaxed environment made it more personal, realistic and helpful. Please continue doing this."

For more information on this program, contact Rick Gressard, Professor, School of Education or Jill Russett, Grant Coordinator, School of Education at