Office of Alcohol Policy and Education debuts new cup to monitor student alcohol intake

The front side of the new cup, released by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, that measures alcohol content. The cup was developed to promote the self-monitoring of alcohol consumption among students. (The Stanford Daily Photo Staff)

The front side of the new cup, released by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, that measures alcohol content. The cup was developed to promote the self-monitoring of alcohol consumption among students. (The Stanford Daily Photo Staff)

The Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) is trying a new tool to promote safe drinking on campus: a plastic red cup with lines marking the standard drink size for hard liquor, wine and beer. OAPE has distributed the cups to kitchen managers in every Row house, with each house getting at least one cup per resident, and to Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band staff members.

OAPE has created a video to publicize the program online, and they plan on handing out the cups to freshmen in dining halls near all-frosh dorms. The initial order was for 10,000 cups so that any student who wanted a cup could have one, according to OAPE.

The move is a response to a rise in alcohol-related transports over the past few years. The 53 alcohol-related transports in the 2010-2011 school year rose to 77 in the 2011-12 year, according to statistics from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS).

The red cups are marked with black lines at the 1.5 oz., 5 oz. and 12 oz. levels to delineate the serving size for hard alcohol, wine and beer, respectively. The cup also has a QR code that leads to a link to download OAPE’s app, launched this fall.

OAPE recruited the help of students in CS 193P: iPhone and iPad Application Programming to create the app that could help students drink safely. Jaron Moore ’14 won the contest, and his app has been downloaded 295 times so far.

“The idea was basically a [blood alcohol concentration] calculator that could give normative feedback based on wherever someone was throughout the night,” said Sam Saenz ’11, OAPE outreach and intern coordinator.

The user inputs his or her sex and weight and then clicks on the icons of a shot glass, a wine glass or a beer bottle to indicate what kind of drink they have had.

The backside of the new cup, released by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, that measures alcohol content. The cup was developed to promote the self-monitoring of alcohol consumption among students. (The Stanford Daily Photo Staff)

The backside of the new cup, released by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, that measures alcohol content. The cup was developed to promote the self-monitoring of alcohol consumption among students. (The Stanford Daily Photo Staff)

Jarreau Bowen ’07 MA ’08, OAPE’s outreach education coordinator, said that he believes that the cup will be well received because many students would like to measure their drinks more accurately.

Saenz said that people are less likely to be transported if they are keeping track of their alcohol consumption.

“We know that students who keep track [of their drinks] have less problems than those who don’t,” Saenz said.

Although OAPE hopes that the red cup can help decrease the number of transports, they said the program is more aimed at “social drinkers.”

“We do a lot to support people on two extremes…  so we wanted to do something for the social drinkers,” said Angelina Cardona ’11, assistant director and community engagement coordinator for OAPE,

Cardona added that while OAPE’s Cardinal Nights program serves largely nondrinkers and light drinkers, Saenz and Bowen often have meetings with students who have had serious alcohol-related incidents.

The red cup is meant to cater to those who “want to be able to experience what everyone would consider the positive effects of alcohol while minimizing the negative consequences,” Bowen said.

“Stay classy: that’s our motto,” Saenz said.

  • Robert J. Chapman, PhD

    Although I think this is basically a “good idea,” I have mixed feeling about a program like this. On the one hand…the “positive”…this is classic harm reduction…if someone will not stop doing a high-risk behavior, doing something to increase the likelihood that those doing the behavior will be less likely to harm themselves or others makes sense. Also, it suggests that the “school” or “program” is not engaging in neo-prohibition-type prevention strategies and recognizes that (some/many) students drink. This is a good thing in that can only help to increase the veracity of the school’s/program’s other messages in the eyes of the target population.

    On the “less positive” side of the equation, however, is another argument. Do the “lines on the cup” act as instructions if not incentives to engage in high-risk drinking? Like the breathalizer in the bar can promote some to “see who can blow the highest BAL,” so can these cups be argued to instruct those intent on high-risk drinking.

    What about adding to this that schools that negotiate exclusive contracts with soft drink distributers might negotiate “X” cases of free soda/water/“non-alcoholic beverages” as part of the exclusivity contract and then offer student orgs, athletic teams, Greek-letter orgs, etc., “X” free sleeves of “special red cups” along with “Y” cases of free non-alcoholic beverage where the “free beverages” are the incentives to get the cups into the hands of more than just first-year students.

    In short, like so many prevention strategies, no one effort is going to fix/solve/eliminate the issues related to high-risk and dangerous collegiate drinking. The truth be told, the problem is NOT collegiate drinking, but the drinking that SOME COLLEGIANS do. Those high-risk drinkers may or may not use the cups and they may or may not pay attention to the markings on the cups, but then, the intent of the cups is probably to decrease accidental intoxication rather than to motivate behavior change in the confirmed “frequent binge drinker.”

    It will be interesting to read about the results.

    Robert J. Chapman
    Drexel University

  • Christian

    How do I use it doing a keg stand?

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