Alcohol and Other Drugs

Meet Your Alcohol and Other Drugs Community Health Organizers

Jack Cook (pictured) and Sierra Murdock want to learn more about students’  use of alcohol

USC Presidential Scholar and sophomore Jackson Cook and Master of Communication Management candidate Sierra Murdock say they are not “anti-drinking.”

The two community health organizers assigned to examine alcohol use among USC students said they want to understand the factors that lead to this behavior that puts so many at risk.

“We want to see what students’ thoughts are on the issue, be that connection between the administration and students, and see how we can reduce the rate of binge drinking,” said Cook, a biomedical engineering major from Reno, NV.

“We want to try to get the most candid and honest responses we can. It’s completely anonymous, and we’re not judging. We want to understand both the upsides and downsides for students, so we know why they participate,” he said.

In particular, the pair plan to focus on at-risk drinking behavior (producing Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08% or higher) on game days, so they’ll ask groups of students to walk them through their own game day experiences.

Murdock described her own experience coming to USC for graduate school after earning her undergraduate degree at Arizona State, which she says is a “dry campus.”

“I arrived on campus on a game day and saw someone doing a keg stand out of a fountain, and I thought, ‘Well, this must be what it’s like to be on a wet campus,’” she said. “We’re trying to change the culture around drinking at USC.”

They also plan to ask student groups – like first-years, graduate students, and Greeks – about any mixed messages they receive about USC policies on alcohol and other drugs, and what kinds of policies they might like to see on their campus.

“What better way to get the best policies in place,” asks Murdock, “than getting student feedback on what works and what doesn’t?”

Cook said the use of alcohol and other substances affects a broad spectrum of students – either impacting them personally or someone they know. He hopes their findings from these discussions will help individuals and the campus community as a whole make safer and healthier choices.

“Now is the time when we’re picking up many of the habits we will have for the rest of our lives – good or bad,” he said. “If USC can reduce the amount of people who drink excessively on a regular basis, it will help them in the future, and it’s a big step in the right direction.”

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