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Boston-Area Schools Plan Alcohol Survey

By Efren Gutierrez


MIT mailed out a thousand surveys last Friday to gauge the severity of alcohol and substance abuse on campus. The core survey, as it is called, will compile a database for both MIT and Boston schools on student usage of these substances.

“MIT is participating in this survey because of MIT’s participation in the Boston Coalition,” said Dean of Students Margaret R. Bates. “The Boston Coalition is a group initially made up of 24 area colleges, such as Harvard and Boston College. It was formed as a higher education task force whose charge is to find ways to alleviate dangerous drinking on campuses.” The Boston Coalition collectively decided to participate in the core survey.

Dean Alberta C. Lipson of the Academic Service Office is coordinating administration of the survey at MIT. Surveys were mailed to one thousand randomly chosen MIT undergraduates, 250 from each class. The anonymous survey contains various questions relating to the student’s previous and current use of alcohol and illegal substances.

The survey was developed by the Department of Education and has been given to students on several hundred college campuses across the country.

The other Boston-area colleges and universities have already conducted the same survey this spring, mostly during February and March, but MIT chose not to do it during those months due to IAP and Spring Break.

Surveys offer gift certificates

As an enticement to fill out the survey, each person who returns his survey is eligible to participate in a drawing for gift certificates from Tower Records.

Those who don’t respond to the survey immediately will receive a follow-up survey in about ten days. A follow-up postcard will be mailed even later to those who still haven’t responded.

The data from the current survey will be processed through the core survey office and should be available during the summer.

MIT Med does survey in 1995

MIT Medical conducted a similar survey in 1995. “The reason this particular survey was chosen again was because it is the most widely used nationally,” Bates said.

In that survey, MIT was below national average in both alcohol consumption and substance abuse.

The Wechsler group at the Harvard School of Public Health also carries out an alcohol survey every three years. MIT was not asked to participate in that survey this year. While the Wechsler survey focuses primarily on binge drinking and its effects on students, the core survey is meant to gather data on abuse of all types of substances.