Online Program

Students' perceptions of campus safety by drinking status

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gayle Walter, PhD, MPH, CHES, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Des Moines, IA
Michael Dunn, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC
Peter Anderson, PhD, College of Health Sciences, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN

Increasing episodes of campus violence have warranted an investigation into college students’ perception of safety on campus.


In this study, 56,811 students responded to the CORE Drug and Alcohol Survey during the 2010 academic school year. Universities administered the survey and students either completed it in class or electronically. 


More than 92% of non-drinkers (n=19,481) felt safe on campus compared to 94% of drinkers (n=31,443). Higher proportion of non-drinkers (almost 8%, n=1,603) felt unsafe compared to those who drink alcohol (about 6%, n=1,998). After adjusting for gender, race, and place of residence, students who felt unsafe on campus had 20% less odds of drinking compared to students who felt safe. 


Students who drink may have a false sense of security, take unnecessary risks, or place themselves in dangerous situations. Students who drink may become careless about socializing with strangers, walking at night in an isolated area unaccompanied, and leaving doors to their living quarters unlocked.  Based on these conclusions, being a victim of intimate partner violence, assault, and robbery are legitimate concerns that remain on college campuses. Improving safety on college campuses by reevaluating the overall campus safety plan to make revisions or additions or to add information on the relationship between drinking and feeling safe may help college students remain safe.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss students overall sense of campus safety. Differentiate feelings of safety between drinkers nondrinkers. Explain the potential differences in risks to safety between drinkers and nondrinkers connected to their sense of safety.

Keyword(s): Alcohol Use, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My research interests have always been focused on alcohol use and behaviors among college students. I have published peer-reviewed articles on alcohol use among college students and have completed extensive literature reviews on the subject. I consider myself an expert on the subject matter.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.