Research talk to tackle drinking issues for new college students

Chairs in a circle

College life is on for a new class of students, and with it comes a feeling of dread for parents as their children face the temptations of excessive alcohol use. What’s a parent to do?

Jessica Cronce of the UO’s Department of Counseling Psychology and Human Services will deal out some advice at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the first Quack Chats pub talk of the new school year.

The general public — especially parents and siblings of college-aged children and others who may have influence over these young adults — is welcome to attend and hear Cronce’s message and engage in a conversation with her.

Quack Chats in 2017-18 have been moved off campus to the Ax Billy Grill at the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette St., in the heart of downtown Eugene. Admission is free. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Also coming, beginning Saturday, Oct. 7, is a new year of Run with a Researcher.

Cronce, who works with the UO’s Office of Student Life to evaluate and increase the effectiveness of prevention strategies, primarily studies alcohol use by students. She also focuses on the development of research- and motivation-based intervention programs, especially for first-year students.

“The heart of my talk will be about how parents or other influencers can have an effective conversation with their college-aged children, and when to have that conversation,” she said. “I'll address what such a conversation might entail, and what not to say. It’s not a just-say-no approach. It’s a harm-reduction approach.”

Cronce studies individual-focused interventions like “Alcohol-Wise,” the UO’s prevention course that is required for all university students and works to reduce the harms associated with drinking. Other modules in the course cover sexual behavior and the use of cannabis and other drugs.

The personalized feedback element of “Alcohol-Wise” is reviewed with a tool, the College Alcohol Intervention Matrix, which was co-developed by Cronce and researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota. The tool, commissioned by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, helps university personnel select evidence-based, alcohol-abuse prevention strategies.

Cronce became interested in the study of alcohol use by college students when, as a senior honors student at the University of Washington, she was paired with a faculty member who studied drinking by students in fraternities and sororities.

“We looked at interventions to try to prevent harm in that setting,” she said. “I saw how this research was applicable to me. I was of that age, and I readily saw how this helps people.”

She stayed on at Washington for five years after earning her bachelor’s degree to continue working on the issue before earning her doctorate from Yale University.

Run with a Researcher

Area residents, as well as members of the UO community, also are invited to join up with UO faculty at 9 a.m. Oct. 7 for either a 3.1-mile walk or 4.5-mile run. The runs and walks last approximately an hour, with pacing adjusted to fit participants’ abilities.

Participants should meet at the “O” desk on the lower floor of the Erb Memorial Union, where they are paired up with a UO researcher.

Run with a Researcher normally is held on the first Saturday of each month, but in October, there will be a second opportunity, on Oct. 28, which coincides with homecoming and the UO Innovation Summit.

Leaders for Oct. 7 will be Keith Frazee of the College of Education and assistant director for IntroDUCKtion and Week of Welcome, mathematicians Dev Sinha and Jim Isenberg, Marcus Langford, assistant dean of students for leadership and engagement, and journalism instructor Charlie Butler.

By Jim Barlow, University Communications