Think First: Collected Data

Outcomes of various Think First initiatives:

Purple Flags: a dormitory-based education / intervention campaign that seeks to keep the conversation about alcohol use in front of students by appealing to them to consider the risks involved.

Which best summarizes your response to the purple flags? 

   Advent 2012   Easter 2013   Advent 2013   Easter 2014 
I did not notice any such purple flags. 41% 38% 26% 20%
I noticed the purple flags but had no reaction to them. 29% 34% 46% 45%
I noticed and they prompted me to think about the message(s). 26% 21% 23% 29%
They prompted me to think about and talk to my friends about the message(s). 4% 7% 5% 7%


Which Purple Flag statements were most memorable?

  • Ones that promoted moderation (e.g. "Seek balance," "one cup does not equal one drink," reframe your pregame") (31 of 87 comments)
  • Ones that focused on relationships with other students (e.g., "I wish I had helped her," "I wish I didn't have to worry about him every weekend") (23 of 87 comments)
  • Ones that addressed personal regrets of some sort (e.g., "I would have done __ if I wasn't so hungover") (12 of 87 comments)
  • Ones that addressed personal responsibility (e.g., "I don't think 'I was drunk' is an excuse," "I never thought that would happen at Sewanee" (11 of 87 comments)
  • Ones that addressed problems with blacking out (e.g. "I wish I could remember what I did last night") (10 of 87 comments)


The FOG: a peer-intervention program that sends teams of students trained in intervention strategies to parties to mingle with their peers, offer water and snacks, and step in to offer help when necessary.

This semester the University promoted the FOG, a peer-intervention program that has students actively monitoring other students at parties. Which describes your reaction to the FOG?


 Easter 2012   Advent 2012   Easter 2013   Advent 2013   Easter 2014 
Until I read this question, I had no knowledge of the FOG. 20% 21% 13% 22% 13%
I know of the FOG but never encountered the FOG at parties.    37% 41% 48% 47% 46%
I have encountered the FOG and AM NOT in favor of it. 5% 3% 2% 0% 4%
I have encountered the FOG and AM in favor of it. 39% 36% 38% 31% 38%


"How to Help" posters: posters in dormitories that detail steps for how to help an intoxicated student.

Have you noticed the posters across campus labeled "How to Help an Intoxicated Student"? If so, did you read over the poster?

   Easter 2012   Advent 2012   Easter 2013   Advent 2013   Easter 2014 
I haven't noticed any such poster. 37% 23% 24% 16% 11%
I have noticed the posters but haven't read over any of them. 22% 22% 17% 13% 23%
I have noticed the posters and read over them at least once. 41% 54% 59% 71% 66%


Think First data points:

  Advent 2009 Easter 2010 Advent 2010 Easter 2011 Advent 2011 Easter 2012 Advent 2012 Easter 2013 Advent 2013 Easter 2014

Advent 2014

Easter 2015

Simple alcohol violations (DUA, public display, providing to minor)   70 59 72 72 78 54 62 42 66 50 84 39
Complex alcohol violations:                        
* Common sources (individ or groups) 2 0 2 1 2 5 1 1 0 0 2 2
* Drunk and disorderly, public intox 14 3 5 6 21 11 14 9 16 8 11 13
* DUI 1 3 1 4 1 3 3 6 2 0 5 0
Harms (in-house survey unless noted):                        
* Did something I regret %         24 23 17 20 22 31 29

48 (ACHA)

* Full/partial blackout %         27 28 22 29 23 29 31 48 (ACHA)
* Got in trouble %         2 2 1 1 2     3 (ACHA)
* Had unprotected sex %         9 9 8 9 7 6 9 23 (ACHA)
* Hurt myself %         12 11 9 10 9 15 17 27 (ACHA)
* Hurt someone else %         2 1 1 1 1     2 (ACHA)
* Missed a class %         8 11 5 7 8 9 10  
* Performed poorly on a test / paper %         4 7 4 2 5 8 8  
* self-reported DUI %       24 (CORE)               13 (ACHA)
* self-reported "got in trouble" %       21 (CORE)               3 (ACHA)
* Missed a class %       37 (CORE)                
* Performed poorly on test / paper %       29 (CORE)                
* Others' use interrupts academics %       32 (CORE)                
* Full/partial blackout %       52 (CORE)               48 (ACHA)
* Tried unsuccessfully to stop %       5 (CORE)                
* Thought seriously about suicide %       5 (CORE)               4 (ACHA)
Drinking habits:                        
* binge rate (in house survey) % [4 drinks for women, 5 for men in one sitting]             69 72 56 43 59 51 (last 30 days ACHA)
* "super binge" rate  (in house survey) % [7 drinks for women, 8 for men in a two-hour period]         48 50 35 43 27 27 22  
* pre-game rate  (in house survey) %         66 63 60 61 53 61 65  
* last 30 days, used alcohol %       83 (CORE)               83 (ACHA)
* last 30 days, used alcohol 3+ times %       52 (CORE)               76 (ACHA)
* average # drinks / week       10 (CORE)               5.16 (last time drank, ACHA)
* binged last 2 weeks % [4 drinks for women, 5 for men in one sitting]       66 (last 2 weeks CORE)               51 (last 30 days ACHA)
* Of students who believe we have AOD policies, % who agree they are enforced       78 (CORE)                

Note: The "in-house survey" polled approximately 450 students across all four classes each month. The average response rate is 30%. Questions asked respondents to consider drinking behavior in the past two weeks and harms within the past month. The CORE survey, a national instrument given every three years, was a survey of all students with a response rate of approx. 79% and asked respondents to consider behavior in the past year unless otherwise specified. ACHA is the American College Health Association national survey.


Think First: Annual Review

Annual review, 2013-2014

The University of the South began the “Think 1st” program in August 2009 as a comprehensive strategy to be proactive and positive in its efforts to promote healthier use of and attitudes toward alcohol. As per Student Life goal #3 (“Reduce the harmful behaviors associated with alcohol and other drug use”), the particular goals of this effort are as follows:

• To reduce the prominence of alcohol on campus;
• To reduce the harms and high-risk behaviors that alcohol and other drugs bring to campus life;
• To support the educational mission of the University by offering a healthy and supportive environment.

The overall strategy has five dimensions. Below are notes on our strategies, outcomes, and future plans in each dimension: Education, Collaboration, Enforcement, Intervention, and Changing Perspectives.

Global improvement: hiring of a full-time wellness coordinator starting in July 2014!


Objective: To educate 100% of incoming students each year about basics of alcohol and alcohol abuse; offer ongoing education throughout year. Create clear expectations related to alcohol use.

1. Mandatory on-line education (Alcohol Wise) for entering students;
2. Continue with sexual assault educational module
3. Alcohol Education classes for new fraternity and sorority members (with help of Prof. Jessica Siegel)
4. Enhanced Orientation program (Choices 101) for extended conversations about alcohol issues (including penalties).
5. Educated Greek leaders about risks and liabilities they accept when alcohol is available.
6. Education campaigns (posters, magnets distributed August 2013 on “how to help an intoxicated student”)
7. Pieces in the Purple
8. “Your Sewanee Reputation” conversation with freshmen

1. 492 of 494 (99.6%) entering students completed Part 1 (“classroom” portion) of Alcohol Wise with its sexual assault module.
2. More than 90% of new Greeks attended alcohol education classes (Prof. Siegel’s students taught about half the sections).
3. Posters in all dorms; more than 89% of students surveyed indicated that they had noted the posters, with more than 66% indicating they had read through them at least once.
4. YSR conversation attended by more than 340 of the freshmen. 75% of freshmen responded that the program prompted them to think about their drinking. Comments from APs in charge of event suggested that the event itself went well, with some concern that the information on sexual assault was too serious for the students.
5. Added “values-based education” component for Greeks (optional); 5 organizations participated. Reached more than just freshmen / other new members
6. Developed a “Seek Balance Sewanee” web page ( with info and data pertaining to health/wellness broadly.

Future plans:
1. Continue with Alcohol-Wise (with sexual assault module) for 2014-15. Will continue requiring for all freshmen.
2. Will continue providing face-to-face alcohol education courses to Greeks (with Prof. Siegel again invited to assist).
3. Will have multiple alcohol education efforts throughout year: August (on-line) and Orientation (Choices, YSR); October (as another Choices program); February (classes). Need additional classes/programs.
4. Will continue with dormitory-based messages (posters, magnets).
5. Other programs for sexual assault/misconduct, in conjunction with SART and new Wellness Coordinator.
6. Expand the values-based education module. Engage more upperclassmen, preferably in fall term.
7. Continue exploring peer-based education.

Collaboration with the Community
Objective: To engage the community in supporting efforts to minimize the harms associated with alcohol and other drug-related issues.

1. Continue relationship with Franklin County Prevention Coalition
2. Meet with police to discuss shared concerns: Sewanee, Cowan, Franklin Co. Sherriff
3. Meet with staff of Emerald-Hodgson hospital
4. Engage University community in conversation.
5. Continue involvement with CHASCo collaboration.
6. Work with Alumni Greek Council to continue improving Greek response.
7. Develop analogue to NCHIP that better addresses our interests

1. Through FCPC, had grant to cover salaries for FOG workers.
2. Communication from VC to parents re. alcohol issues on campus.
3. Session on alcohol issues during Family Weekend was very poorly attended; will not offer such in 2014-15.
4. Communication with parents—about Family Weekend, about midterms & Homecoming, about midterms and Spring Break. Family weekend incidents, as reported by the Monteagle Assembly, were minimal—very successful campaign.
5. Columns in Purple and Sewanee magazine about alcohol-related concerns.
6. Met with hospital staff and with police from Sewanee and Cowan.
7. Spoke at meetings of Greek Alumni Council.
8. Developed ACS-based collaborative with 8 other institutions participating. Some success in starting conversations.
9. Participated in NASPA Region III conference in June 2014, presentation on Title IX.
10. Supported development of Sexual Assault Response Team that included members from across campus.

Future plans:
1. Continue collaboration with Cornerstone Committee for programming to promote development of healthy relationships. Continue communication to parents (August, September, October, March)
2. Continue relationship with FCPC.
3. Meet with police at their offices (instead of asking them here) to improve rate of contact.
4. Continue ACS collaborative

Objective: To provide a consistent response to improper behavior and thereby reinforce personal, group, and community responsibility.

1. Train dormitory staff so that they will feel empowered to respond on a consistent and serious basis.
2. Meet with all students for every violation and impose consistent sanctions;
3. Plan for safer Greek activities and vigorously police such.
4. Challenge those organizations that promote unsafe/illegal behavior
5. University has improved methods of identifying trained bartenders and requires formal training and ABC certification of all

1. Offered TIPS training for servers through FCPC, Sept. 2013; 20+ new servers, and all were reminded of expectations for Greek events.
2. Trained dorm staff. Worth noting that management of dorms has been shifting toward nearly 100% students (even fewer head residents, now centralized Area Coordinators).
3. Total simple alcohol violations increased from 104 in 2012-13 to 116 in 2013-14. Some of the rise can be attributed to increased enrollment, especially among new students.
4. Total compound alcohol violations (e.g., drunk and disorderly, violent, DUI) dropped from 34 to 26, which is a positive indicator.
5. Published discipline data on web (semester) and via “Inside the Gates,” monthly e-mail publication, to promote transparency in discipline process.

Future plans:
1. Continue training servers.
2. Continue work with residential life staff to more consistently define and enforce infractions.
3. Implement Community Code (values-based code of conduct) for coming year, focusing on “thou shalt” vs. “thou shalt not” behavior.
4. Re-evaluate “social probation” as a penalty.
5. Given that the University is expecting another very large class of new students and a total enrollment of nearly 1700, the number of incidents is likely to increase.
6. Need to work toward more effective involvement of Greeks, as unofficial reports of punch parties and other events continue.
7. Continue with “Inside the Gates.”

Objective: To get students the help they need to avoid (additional) critical incidents.

1. Allow “conduct forgiveness” for first offenses of a less serious nature
2. Require an educational intervention program for all students who violate an alcohol- or drug-related policy.
3. Offer amnesty to students who are taken to the hospital in response to an alcohol or drug issue.
4. Promote AA and other substance abuse programs across campus.
5. Ask faculty and coaches to refer students who seem to have substance issues.
6. Continue NCHIP surveys to keep awareness in front of students
7. Continue bystander Intervention Training (NCHIP)—the FOG
8. Offer Alternative activities during halftime of basketball games
9. Poster on “How to help an intoxicated student”
10. Program for faculty/staff (esp. targeted to coaches) on helping students in distress


1. Continued to incorporated eCHUG and eTOKE, online educational programs
2. Continued with BASICS for more serious circumstances
3. Continued with Alcohol-Wise module for sanctions (for discipline, Greek life, etc.)
4. Total ER visits for alcohol use increased from 25 to 34.
5. Continued with an ad in student paper for local AA meetings.
6. August 2013, offered workshop on “how to help a student in distress”; attended by more than 20 members of athletics.
7. Survey data are mixed about harms. Data suggest more students this year drank to point of blackout and “regret” than last year. But rates of “binge” and “superbinge” and “pregaming” all dropped.
8. Met with Greek Presidents and Social Chairs about Risk Management and Liability.

Future plans:
1. Repeat program on “how to help a student in distress” for various stakeholders.
2. Continue with online intervention tools.
3. Get more diverse Greek representatives in FOG.
4. Develop “Sewanee Playbook” as a means of promoting bystander intervention.
5. Sponsor “awareness sessions” to respond to both sexual misconduct and alcohol issues.

Changing Perspectives
Objective: To challenge assumptions about alcohol use among students.

1. Challenge assumptions through “Purple Flags” campaign
2. Develop the whole person by presenting academic and social dimensions as part of the same person, not separate.
3. Poster campaign about “seeking balance” to promote alternative attitudes
4. Engage Greeks in “Think First” leadership.
5. Challenge the “open party” mentality associated with comprehensive exams.

1. Purple Flags in all dorms. More than 80% noticed them, and 35% reported thinking about them. Flags addressing relationships were most memorable. Still, there has been some “dismissal” of flags, as evidenced by comments and by creation of imitation purple flags with more dismissive statements.
2. Unfortunately, reported academic harms from alcohol increased.
3. Did not get enough response to CORE to make results valid.
4. Some active participation on Think First by Greek leaders, including Finley Reeves, incoming IFC president.
5. Students developed programs about relationships and responsibilities (“Ask Not,” “walk a day in the shoes” campaigns)
6. Greater focus on values-based education, conduct
7. Library opened later on weekends.
8. Intentional campaign surrounding “super Saturday” comps celebrations led to minimizing of incidents (trash, public display) on that day.

Future plans:
1. Put the Purple Flags aside for a year or two so that they can be novel again when they return
2. Continue promoting positive behavior over negative (again, “thou shalt” vs. “thou shalt not”).
3. Request more Greek involvement on team (IFC/ISC officer?).
4. Pursue more opportunities at Fowler (late night activities) to give students more options for weekend nights.
5. Re-evaluate CORE survey, especially in light of requirements of “campus climate” survey related to Title IX.
6. Continue challenging comp-related behavior at all major comp periods.
7. Re-evaluate use of “Seek Balance” when discussing sexual misconduct

The Alcohol Research Group at The University of the South:

Eric Hartman, Dean of Students
Alex Bruce, Associate Dean of Students
Karen Tharp, Director of University Health Services
Kate Reed, Asst. Director of Residence Life
Jessica Siegel, Psychology faculty
Brittany Macon, student
Finley Reeves, student

Think First: Overview


Recognizing the need for the University to be proactive and positive in efforts to promote healthier choices regarding alcohol and other drugs, members of the University community have shaped a comprehensive strategy called “Think First.”  The goals of this program include reducing prominence of alcohol on campus, reducing the harms and high-risk behaviors that alcohol and other drugs bring to campus life, and to support the educational mission of the University by offering a healthy and supportive environment.

Sewanee’s overall strategy is informed by our own on-going research and by nationally recognized best practices. Our approach emphasizes:

  • Education,
  • Community Collaboration,
  • Enforcement,
  • Intervention, and
  • Changing Perspectives.

Think First has led to measurable improvements in the culture and overall health of the students on our campus.  In 2011, Sewanee was honored to have 'Think First" designated one of the top national programs and as a finalist for the "Prevention Excellence Award" by Outside the Classroom.

For more information, click on the links below:

We aspire to encourage our students to make healthier choices and reduce the harmful behaviors associated with alcohol and other drug use. We hope to promote healthier student-to-student and student-to-community relationships.

We will all benefit from being part of a community that chooses to “think first.”