Loyola University Chicago

Safety Net Coalition

For Faculty & Staff

We all know that most students drink alcohol. What's the big deal? It’s not only that students are drinking, but it’s the way that many students drink that puts them and others at risk for harm. Heavy drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in one sitting) has negative implications for academic performance, health and safety.

According to surveys of LUC undergraduate students*, 68% report having drunk alcohol in the past month. Many report experiencing negative consequences in college as a result of alcohol or other drug use. Examples include:

  • 39% did something they later regretted
  • 30% forgot where they were or what they did (blackout)
  • 26% had studying disrupted as a result of other students' drinking
  • 24% missed class14% performed poorly on a test or important project
  • 14% hurt or injured themselves
  • 8% thought they might have a drinking or other drug problem

What is the University doing to address alcohol-related problems?

Undergraduate students receive many doses of alcohol and other drug education. All incoming undergraduates are required to complete prevention education pre-matriculation AlcoholEdu for College. First year students also receive education in their residence halls and during the University 101 course (also a requirement). There are interventions for ‘at-risk’ students (‘Choices’ and ‘BASICS’), referral services that connect students with treatment and support groups, and social marketing campaigns that focus on safer decisions about drinking. There is also a focus on shaping the campus-community environment by engaging faculty, staff, parents, and community members in prevention efforts.

Is concerning myself with student drinking part of my role at Loyola?

Yes, every member of a community that is dedicated to the Jesuit Catholic ideal of cura personalis, “the care of the whole person,” should be concerned for the good of others. Often, faculty and staff are among the first to notice that a student is having personal problems. If a student is abusing alcohol to the point where it interferes with his/her studies or well-being or affects someone else’s campus experience, you may be well-positioned to communicate concerns and to refer the student for assistance. You may be the one who makes all the difference in a student’s life.

How can I tell if a student has a drinking problem?

There may be no definitive way of being sure, but potential warning signs include:

  • Deterioration in work/academic performance, including increased tardiness, absences, or requests for extensions
  • Recurring alcohol-related legal problems, including trouble with campus authorities
  • Continued drinking despite having ongoing interpersonal problems that are caused or worsened by drinking
  • Mood changes such as temper flare-ups, irritability and defensiveness
  • Physical or mental indicators such as memory lapses, lack of personal hygiene, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech
  • Disclosure, by a student, that there might be a drinking problem

Multiple signs and a pattern (versus a single episode) make it more likely that there is a significant problem.

What can I do if I suspect a student is having an alcohol-related problem?

Communicating with the student is the first step. You are not expected to take on the role of counselor, but you can identify a student who is showing signs of problems and then connect that student to available help. Here are some tips:

  • Ensure privacy, and choose a time to talk when neither of you is rushed.
  • Express your care and concern. “I’m concerned about you.”
  • Describe in specific, nonjudgmental terms the behaviors or signs that concern you. “I’m concerned about you because I’ve noticed you haven’t been to class in two weeks, and when you are here, you appear not to be focused.”
  • Make a referral. “Many students find that talking with a professional at the Wellness Center is helpful.” Inform the student that Wellness Center services are confidential and free, and that using resources is a sign of strength and maturity. Give the student the number to call for making an appointment with a counselor at the Wellness Center.
  • Follow-up. Check back with the student to see how things are going and if the referral was helpful.

Tips for a Successful Interaction

Not sure what to do? Consulting with a professional from the Wellness Center can help you determine how to help a student who may have a drinking problem. Please call 773-508-2530 and ask to speak to the counselor on call.

Don’t promise absolute confidentiality in all circumstances. If a student’s drinking behavior threatens the safety of the student and/or community, notify Loyola’s Behavioral Concern Team by submitting a report or by calling 773-508-8300. 

What can I do to help prevent alcohol-related problems?

Students often assume that heavy and frequent drinking in college is normal and acceptable. These assumptions contribute to the problem of alcohol misuse. By adopting some of the suggestions listed below, you can help to correct students’ perceptions about drinking in college and create a healthier campus culture.

In the Classroom

  • Schedule classes and exams on Fridays. This discourages students from drinking heavily on Thursday night, which is typically the heaviest drinking night of the week at Loyola.
  • Make it clear that students’ participation in class is important and that alcohol impairment in the classroom is unacceptable because it is not conducive to learning.
  • Assign group projects. Working in groups is one way to enable students to build relationships outside the classroom without alcohol.
  • Integrate the subject matter of alcohol abuse into your courses when possible.

In Class and Around Campus

  • Share accurate norms about Loyola students*: about 1 in 4 undergraduates choose not to drink; most (60%) have four or fewer drinks on a night out.
  • Avoid joking about heavy drinking. This normalizes risky drinking behavior and may appear to condone it.
  • Avoid enabling the drinking behavior (e.g., accepting excuses, pushing back deadlines, and ignoring problems caused by drinking). Shielding a person from the drinking-related consequences indirectly allows them to continue drinking in problematic ways.
  • Announce on- or off-campus events to promote school spirit, community engagement, and alternatives to the party/ bar scene. 
  • Become familiar with the University’s alcohol policies. Policies are in alignment with Illinois state law, which prohibits the sale, possession, consumption or provision of alcoholic beverages to or by any person under age 21.
  • In situations where you are with students in the presence of alcohol, let university policy and state law be your guide.

*LUC Spring 2016 ‘National College Health Assessment' (n=777 undergraduates). *LUC Spring 2012 'Core Alcohol & Other Drug Survey' (n=1,254 undergraduates). Note: LUC students' rates of alcohol use and negative consequences are similar to national averages.

Resources for Faculty and Staff