SVC Partners with Southshire Substance Abuse Coalition

December 7, 2009

The Southshire Substance Abuse Coalition and Southern Vermont College have engaged in a new partnership geared towards healthy decision making regarding underage drinking. This multi-faceted effort includes over $26,000 in funding for leadership conferences and training for students and a campus wide “Social Norming” marketing campaign challenging popular misperceptions regarding alcohol use. The program will be implemented over the course of the next 18 months.  

Social Norms marketing campaigns present students with positive and accurate messages regarding the use and non-use of alcohol by their peers. Studies have shown that student perceptions concerning alcohol use are often inflated and inaccurate. “Our students believe these misperceptions just as others do consistently on campuses across the country,” says Michael Goodwin, Director of Counseling Services at SVC. “The goal is to demonstrate that risky and disruptive drinking behaviors are in actuality not the ‘norm’ on college campuses.” 

Once these false perceptions are challenged, students feel less pressure to conform to exaggerated and inaccurate drinking patterns. Such campaigns on colleges and universities across the country have successfully lowered binge drinking rates by as much as 20 to 30 percent, as well as seeing a reduction in disruptive behaviors and property damage on their campuses. 

The project is supported by a grant from the Vermont Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG) and is one of the latest initiatives of the Southshire Substance Abuse Coalition. The coalition is a collection of over 20 agencies and organizations (including parents and youth) dedicated to reducing substance abuse and use among youth and adults in Bennington and the surrounding community. The Southshire Substance Abuse Coalition is open to all interested community members and meets the second Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m. at the Career Development Center, located adjacent to Mount Anthony Union High School. For additional information contact Glen Gross or Kerri MacLaury at 802-442-5491.