Common Ground


Implemented by a campus/community coalition, the Common Ground program combines media, enforcement, and policy strategies to prevent alcohol use and its consequences among college students.


  • To change social norms that support alcohol use on college campuses
  • To limit social and commercial availability of alcohol to college students

Typical Elements

  • A social norms campaign to showcase student support for alcohol control strategies that (Wood et al., 2009):
    • Assesses student support for alcohol-related policies and enforcement efforts (e.g., collect survey data) and documents key findings (e.g., strong support for stricter enforcement of drinking and driving laws).
    • Shares key findings using various media that draws attention to students’ normative beliefs supporting alcohol control strategies.
  • A media advocacy campaign featuring a well-publicized press conference that aims to make students more aware of college rules (e.g., parental notification of arrest results from underage possession of alcohol), state driving under the influence (DUI) laws (e.g., .08% blood alcohol concentration [BAC] per se law and its “zero tolerance” law) and enhanced enforcement efforts (Wood et al., 2009).
  • Responsible beverage service (RBS) practices and training of servers in community bars and restaurants near the college campus (Wood et al., 2009).
  • Safe ride services which offer students a ride home on Thursday through Saturday nights (10 p.m.–3 a.m.), provided free or at a reduced rate by student volunteer drivers using rental cars (Zimmerman & DeJong, 2003).
  • A full-time advisor to work with fraternities and sororities to expand alcohol-related reform efforts (Wood et al., 2009).
  • Student education on safe alcohol-related practices and procedures. For example, colleges can offer workshops for (Wood et al., 2009):
    • Fraternity and sorority members and other interested students on social host liability and safe party procedures
    • Students living off-campus on how to be a good neighbor to community members
  • A disciplinary system to address off-campus student behavior that violates local, state, or federal laws or poses a threat to self or others (Wood et al., 2009).
  • A town (or city) policy of placing large stickers on houses where disturbances involving college students and alcohol have occurred (Wood et al., 2009).
  • The distribution of promotional materials with prevention information and messages. For example:
    • ​Advertisements in campus newspapers
    • A large poster in the student union lobby
    • Small posters placed around campus
    • Table tents in campus dining facilities
    • E-mail messages to students


  • College students
  • Alcohol outlet owners, managers, and servers


  • Relative to a comparison group, students exposed to Common Ground demonstrated significant increases in perceived likelihood of apprehension for violating the minimum legal drinking age and using a false identification (Wood et al., 2009).
  • Students exposed to Common Ground also reported (Wood et al., 2009):
    • Increased awareness of formal alcohol-control efforts
    • Increased perceived likelihood of enforcement and perceptions of responsible beverage service
    • Decreased perceptions of student misbehavior at off-campus parties
  • The community surrounding the Common Ground university experienced a decrease in complaints to local police regarding student disturbances in the community (Wood et al., 2009).


Safe Lanes on Campus: A Guide for Preventing Impaired Driving and Underage Drinking


No recognition found for role of Common Ground in preventing underage drinking and/or its consequences.


Wood, M. D., DeJong, W., Fairlie, A. M., Lawson, D., Lavigne, A. M., & Cohen, F. (2009). Common ground: An investigation of environmental management alcohol prevention initiatives in a college community. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, S16, 96–105.

Zimmerman, R., & DeJong, W. (2003). SafeLanes on campus: A guide for preventing impaired driving and underage drinking. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention. Retrieved from