Evaluation of Campus Watch: a community-based initiative to reduce alcohol-related harm and social disorder in a university setting
Background: The total social cost of alcohol-related harm in New Zealand is as high as $5 billion annually. In New Zealand and other high income countries, young people are at a greater risk of alcohol-related harm from their alcohol consumption, as they are more likely to drink hazardously, and are vulnerable to longer term risks from exposure at this age. In North Dunedin, university students represent a large portion of the population and drink more frequently and more hazardously than their non-student peers. This environment increases the likelihood of experiencing harms caused by their own or others’ alcohol consumption, and these harms extend to non-drinking students and the wider community. In 2007, amid concerns that anti-social behaviour was having serious impacts on students and the North Dunedin community, the University of Otago launched Campus Watch, using round-the-clock patrols of the university and surrounding neighbourhoods to provide pastoral care to students, improve the quality of the surrounding neighbourhood, and enforce the University’s Code of Student Conduct on and off campus. This programme did not aim to specifically target alcohol consumption. Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of Campus Watch on alcohol-related harm and social disorder among university students and residents of North Dunedin. Methods: This quasi-experimental evaluation of Campus Watch used a recognised three-step evaluation framework to understand how the programme was developed and introduced (process), what behavioural change occurred after implementation (impact), and the effectiveness of the programme in reducing alcohol-related harm and disorder (outcome). Data were collected using key informant interviews, Community Surveys (2008 and 2009), and national web-based surveys of university students (2005, 2007, 2009). Secondary analysis of Campus Watch incident data, New Zealand Police data, and New Zealand Fire Service data was also undertaken. Where possible, comparison sites were included and relative changes measured. Results: The process evaluation showed that the broad objectives of the programme allowed it to be responsive to the needs of the North Dunedin community. Campus Watch staff were highly visible in the area and were well received, with high levels of satisfaction among students and other residents. The impact and outcome evaluations showed significant decreases in student alcohol consumption, some types of alcohol-related harms, nuisance fires, and other forms of social disorder in the wider university area. Crime rates decreased in the Campus Watch area after 18 months of the programme’s introduction and continued to decrease to the end of 2010. There were no significant changes in North Dunedin residents’ perceptions of their neighbourhood or its problems between 2008 and 2009. Conclusions: Campus Watch had a positive impact on students and the North Dunedin community, by reducing hazardous drinking, some alcohol-related harms, crime rates, and nuisance fires. The programme’s flexibility and its balance between enforcement and pastoral care were important to the programme’s success. A clarification of its role within the university and the wider community and the development of effective indicators to measure further changes will help the programme adapt in light of imminent legislative changes surrounding the sale and supply of alcohol.
Advisor: Connor, Jennie; Kypri, Kypros
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Preventive and Social Medicine
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: alcohol; university students; evaluation; Campus Watch; alcohol-related harm; social disorder; community interventions
Research Type: Thesis