College students protect friends who have been drinking

August 24, 2010

College students are less likely to let their female friends engage in risky sexual behavior after a night of drinking alcohol, according to ASU researchers' recent findings – published in the journal Communication">">Communication Education – that examine how and why college students protect their friends who have been drinking. 

Three-quarters of the study’s participants reported that they would not take risks when it comes to making sure a female friend is safe while under the influence of alcohol. Participants said they would persuade a female friend not to go home with a new male acquaintance or that they would make sure she got home safely.  Download Full Image

“Our research suggests that the claim that college students routinely engage in risky sexual behavior while intoxicated may be exaggerated,” said Linda C. Lederman, a professor of communication at ASU and one of the study's authors.

The participants reported using three distinct communication strategies to prevent their female friends from going home with strangers after a night of drinking alcohol. They include: 

Highlight the regret associated with that behavior. Participants said they would remind their friends about the negative health and social consequences associated with going home with someone. These include getting pregnant, developing a bad reputation, and regretting their decision in the morning.

Use trickery or deception. Students hold the belief that drunken friends can be easily distracted or exploited. To remove their friends from a risky situation, the participants said they would trick their friends by taking them to get food, or putting them into a cab to go home, instead of going to the male acquaintance’s place. 

Use direct confrontation. To protect their friends from dangerous situations, the study participants said they would directly confront their friends. This includes specifically telling their friends that they need to leave, or physically removing them from the situation. 

Relational closeness or how well the participants know both their friends and male acquaintance plays a significant role in the students’ decisions. College students value their friendships. The study participants reported that they are more likely to step in and protect a friend during a risky situation. However, the participants appeared to be more willing to let their friends go home with a male acquaintance if both they and their friends knew him. 

“Our study suggests friends often try to protect friends," said Lisa Menegatos, lead author of the study and an ASU graduate student. "The interpersonal and persuasive skills they use to do this include many of the same skills they learn in their communication courses. The classroom can be a valuable place for students to discuss health issues and develop communication skills that are relevant to their lives outside the classroom.” 

In-class activities can help students develop the necessary communication competencies to help them better handle situations involving their friends, drinking and sex, among other significant health issues. 

Using a simulation that places students in a risky situation, researchers provided a context for when and how decisions are made. This creates a safe place for students to better understand the role of communication that is needed during complex situations. 

Lederman was a member of the research team that examined student responses from a scenario-based simulation of alcohol-related decision-making, to better understand how students make decisions in risky situations. Using immediate response technology (electronic clickers), participating students selected answers about what they would do in a scenario where they are at a party with their friend “Jane,” who has been drinking and is invited to go home with a guy she meets at the party. No hypotheses were tested during the study, which provided observational data and interpretations.

The study was conducted by Menegatos, a doctoral student in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University; professor Lederman, who is the dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts at Arizona State University and the executive director of ASU’s Institute for Social Science; and Aaron Hess, assistant professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. 

This research is reported in “Friends Don’t Let Jane Hook Up Drunk: A Qualitative Analysis of Participation in a Simulation of College Drinking-Related Decisions,” which appears in Communication Education, Volume 59, a journal of the National Communication Association.

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Majoring in changing the world

August 25, 2010

ASU selected to join prestigious Changemaker Campus Consortium

Arizona State University students want to make a difference and change the world. Now, not after they graduate. Download Full Image

That passion and commitment to higher education as an agent for positive social transformation has earned ASU a coveted place in the Changemaker">">Changemaker Campus Consortium, announced today by" target="_blank">Ashoka U.

Ashoka U is a branch of Ashoka, a global non-profit network of more than 2,500 social entrepreneurs. Its mission is to support universities and colleges that seek to be leaders in social entrepreneurship education.

ASU, Duke University and Marquette University, also named as new Changemaker Campuses, join seven others – Babson College, College of the Atlantic, George Mason University, The New School, Tulane University, University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Maryland – previously chosen by Ashoka U to comprise its Changemaker Campus Consortium.

ASU is the first Changemaker Campus in the Southwest and brings important leadership to the region, as 80 percent of the leading social entrepreneurs in the United States are currently based on the east and west coasts.

"What makes Arizona State University unique is its combination of a bold vision for higher education and its wholehearted dedication to reaching that vision,” said Marina Kim, director of Ashoka U. “The leadership has already created radical structural changes to catalyze interdisciplinary solutions to world challenges, and they are committed to furthering this approach. Ashoka is proud to work with ASU as a leader among Changemaker Campuses."

Selected through a competitive application process, each Changemaker Campus has made a compelling case for moving its university towards becoming a hub of social innovation and an environment that enables everyone to become a changemaker.

According to Kim, Ashoka selected ASU because of its demonstrated commitment to creating and sustaining an environment where everyone has access to the resources, learning opportunities, role models and peer community needed to actualize their full potential as agents for change.

Ashoka also recognized ASU as a leader in the field, in part, because of its academic programs such as the new B.S. in technological entrepreneurship and management that gives students the option to specialize in social entrepreneurship.

“A powerful feature of the College">">College of Technology and Innovation's social entrepreneurship curriculum is our problem-based learning approach in which students work in teams to identify community needs, design and prototype solutions, and implement the solution to build a sustainable venture,” said Mitzi Montoya, executive dean. “Project sites will be local and global, from Arizona to sub-Saharan Africa.”

As part of the Changemaker Campus Consortium, ASU will share its experience to help set a global standard for excellence in social entrepreneurship education. As a member of the Changemaker Campus Consortium, ASU will benefit from Ashoka training, network access, and best practices to advance ASU’s social entrepreneurship efforts in six areas of campus activity: teaching, research, applied learning, resources, role models and community/culture.

On Aug. 27 and 28, representatives from the Changemaker Campuses will participate in the Ashoka Fall Institute in Washington, D.C.

Charis Elliott is a graduate student in social justice and social entrepreneur who founded a fair trade nonprofit organization, Las Otras Hermanas (LOH), in March 2008 with support from ASU’s EDSON">">EDSON Student Entrepreneur Initiative. Elliott is a member of the ASU Changemaker Advisory Board and will attend the Fall Institute.

“Social entrepreneurship is about bringing ideas with social value into a sustainable reality,” Elliott said. “I believe that ASU is full of creative thinkers and problem-solvers looking for tools and direction. The partnership with Ashoka will bring increased awareness of social entrepreneurship and will support students’ creativity, innovation and inspiration, which will ultimately make an impact in communities around the world.”

Richard Filley, director of ASU’s Engineering">">Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) program also is on the Ashoka Advisory Board. EPICS at ASU, he said, is one example of many social entrepreneurship programs that gives students the chance to get involved now and tackle real-world challenges faced by not-for-profit organizations of all types, both here and abroad. 

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to join the university in its efforts to champion solutions to today’s most pressing challenges by becoming a member of the Ashoka Advisory Board.

To learn more about the Ashoka partnership and for information about how to join the Ashoka Advisory Board, contact Jacqueline Smith, University Innovation Fellow in the Office of University Initiatives at Jacqueline.V.Smith">">

Sharon Keeler

associate director, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering