Making your NCAAW unique in design...
Bringing together the key players on campus, brainstorming creative themes and gimmicks, and taking advantage of the national media that will be available during October are all key items to the success of NCAAW on your campus. But the heart and soul of NCAAW are the educational programs that you will conduct on your campus during the observance! These offer your best opportunity to create change in the individuals and the environment on your campus. Here are five key suggestions for your group to consider as you plan your programming schedule.
1. Balance educational and social programs.
One of your goals is to teach people some new information about personal health issues and responsible decision-making. One of your goals is to get people to look at personal behaviors and offer opportunities for people to choose healthy lifestyles - lifestyles grounded in moderation and the acceptance of personal responsibility for actions. It is also important to give people a chance to have a good time, meet new people, dance, laugh and enjoy themselves - maybe without the use of alcohol. For some of our students, this will be a new experience! The best type of NCAAW programming mixes serious information with plain old-fashioned fun. Make sure that your programs serve a variety of goals, from offering social alternatives, to providing hard-core education, to simply getting people to think about an issue in a creative, unexpected way.
2. Don’t fall for the “numbers” game.
We all want our educational and social programming to be big hits. We want lots of people to come and we want the whole campus to attend at least one of our events. Who knows, they might! However, your efforts cannot be judged solely on “how many people showed up.” Some of your programs, especially those dealing with serious educational sessions, like “Adult Children of Alcoholics” or “Preventing Date Rape” might only draw 20-30 people. But those 20-30 people will really want to be there, and those 20-30 people will be happy that you planned this event for them. So, as you are planning your programs you might want to keep three important things in mind. Go to where your audience is. Don’t make them come to you. It is so much easier for people to attend a program “on their own turf.” Program in residence halls, in Greek houses, in the off-campus student lounge. Maybe you want to take your programs to local hangouts! Host events outside in high traffic areas. Here’s a new idea. Have students host programs in their rooms! If 10 people come to a session, you can throw pillows on the floor, make some microwave popcorn and suddenly your program is packed! Not only that, people can talk easier and will feel more comfortable in this environment.
Don’t be afraid to plan social programs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Granted, your NCAAW dance on Friday night may not be the hottest event happening all weekend, and maybe hundreds of people won’t show up, but you’ve just done a great thing. You’ve provided a choice for those students who want to have a great time on the weekend, but didn’t want to go to the bars or off-campus parties.
And finally, set reasonable expectations, and plan your space appropriately. Having 40 people at a dance can make for a great party! But remember that 40 people in a smaller room will be more fun than 40 people in a gymnasium. Set reasonable expectations. If they are exceeded, then great! You’ll know to plan for a bigger turnout next year. Students don’t mind cozy (even cramped!) settings, so make sure your space is appropriate for a modest turnout at any event.
3. Some people like to get information, but don’t want to have to “talk to anybody” at this time.
Despite what we sometimes think, there are still many people who don’t know enough information about how alcohol works, what addiction is, how to help someone they care about who may have a drinking problem, family issues, etc. Those people are curious about these issues, but perhaps are not ready to talk to a campus counselor or peer educator. In order to meet their needs, try to have places where people can pick up the information they need. Set up display tables in the student union or dining hall full of pamphlets and other educational resources that people can take. Set up a VCR at a high visibility location, turn it on, and let it run for an afternoon showing an informative tape on addiction or helping a friend. For those people who want to get really creative, hook up an answering machine to a campus extension and leave educational messages. Have a special “this week only” hotline that people can call to ask their questions about alcohol. Send e-mail messages to everyone on the campus network. Get creative!
Even though people might not want to talk with someone at this time, we still want to make sure they know there are places on campus they can go if they do want to talk with someone later. NCAAW is a great time to advertise services that are available all year! List the extension of the counseling center or peer education office on all the materials you hand out or post.
4. Sometimes educational “teasers” cause the best discussion.
What’s an educational teaser? The good example of a teaser is what you see at the movies for previews. For example, one of this summer’s movies, Matrix Reloaded was promoted long before the release of the film. Each preview gave you a little more information, a little more to the story line that made you curious to know more about the film. Because the previews created curiosity to know what was behind the latest spy spoof in the series, this film became one of the most popular movies of the summer.
We can do the same thing with educational messages. Many campuses have used the “Green Bean Campaign.” If you are not aware of the program - it is very simple. A set of 4 posters is made, with the second one replacing the first, the third replacing the second, etc. The key, however, is the first poster. The entire poster is a giant green bean, and nothing else is on the poster except for the words Green Bean. Hang these posters all over campus (if you really want to have fun, have people carry cans of green beans as well) and let them stay up for three or four days. People lose their minds trying to figure out what all these green bean messages are doing on campus!
Everyone is talking about it and no one knows the answer (except you, of course). The next poster is a cartoon or photo of cans of green beans hooked together like a six-pack. The caption reads “How many green beans does it take to have a good time?” The third poster is a cartoon or photo of a person holding a can of green beans with a caption that reads “If you knew someone who couldn’t talk, couldn’t laugh, dance or have fun unless they ate a few green beans, would that concern you?” And the last poster simply reads, “If you could talk to a friend about a green bean problem, could you talk to them about an alcohol problem?” A list of campus phone numbers for a counseling center, etc. are then provided. Brainstorm some more of these educational teasers. The key is to raise awareness and get people talking - and that’s certainly what happens!
5. You don’t have to be the expert, and you don’t have to do all of these programs yourself. Use your resources!
We talked in the previous section about co-programming and co-sponsoring with other campus organizations, and this is an excellent idea. Another variation on this theme is to find out who the resources are in your campus and community who can help with, or even present programs for you. You don’t have to be the expert on every single student health issue. How could you be? Still, this shouldn’t keep you from presenting programs or handing out information on these topics.
6. Use technology in your program efforts.
Electronic media is attention-getting and free. If you campus has an on-line newsletter, bulletin board or chat room, make use of them for NCAAW. If you can develop a screen saver for NCAAW, have it available for people to download and ask the computer lab to have it on all the monitors. If you are doing a presentation for a class about alcohol issues, visit some web sites and show people what information they can find by doing a little surfing.
PROGRAM IDEAS FOR NCAAW
Talk Show or Game Show Format
What about staging your own talk show? Get peer educators to play various outrageous roles and use a call-in line to explore issues like healthy practices, relationships and personal ethics. Remember! Use lots of sarcasm, confrontation and surprises. It helps if you have a really funny show host. This is a great activity to do in residence hall lounges, and you can do it for many small audiences throughout your NCAAW. Another format might be to use the “Who Wants to Be a Milionaire?” or “Hollywood Squares” game to relay alcohol abuse information and encourage participation in a fun way!
Many campuses are taking advantage of late night student hours and the availability of their athletic facilities to plan highly interactive programs. Take over your fitness center for midnight volleyball tournaments, indoor mini-golf, Olympic type games, swimming contests, or a variety of recreational sports events! This is a great way to involve your physical education department or health education. In addition to the fun activities, you can set up a massage clinic, serve a healthy midnight breakfast, and teach some relaxation techniques. Get students to form teams from their campus organization or residence hall. Get a celebrity student team to compete against faculty!
Take Aim at Alcohol Abuse
Get your entire campus involved by sending out colorful 8.5 x 11 flyers with a statistic about alcohol abuse on one side and an entry blank and instructions on the opposite side. Instructions should direct people to memorize their fact, complete the entry form, make a paper airplane from their flyer, and meet at a certain location. If you have a multi-level building with a balcony, this would be your best spot, or anywhere that is highly visible. Create a colorful target area in the center of the room and ask contestants to recite the statistic they received and fly their plane toward the target. Of course, there should be good prizes for those who get closest to the target. This is a great way to get everyone on campus involved and helps you get important educational messages out.
Parking Lot Campaigns
Select a well-traveled parking lot as a site to launch an awareness campaign! Create a “Top Ten Reasons to Be Aware!” list and distribute it on car windshields or antennae. You may even decide to wash the car windshields so that car owners “can clearly see the importance of NCAAW”. Get campus safety involved and do seat belt checks and pass out promotional items as prizes for those who are buckled up. Distribute your educational materials in the size, shape, and color of your campus parking tickets; people will read it. Include a 10% off coupon from your campus bookstore or snack bar on the ticket.
The Great Tailgate Tent Party
Combat the negative images of tailgating by sponsoring a fun non-alcoholic event during one of your major athletic games. This event is perfect to seek donations and sponsors. Get your members to whip up some great mocktails, serve hot chocolate or specialty coffees if it’s cold. Ask for pizza or sub sponsors to provide food. Pass out freebie promotional items if budget allows and make sure you have educational information about impaired driving available. Invite the crash dummies to serve or to go through the stands to attract an audience at your event.
There are two ways of looking at this program. First, you might have various campus resource offices and organizations set up information and refreshments in each of their areas. Issue passports to students and guide maps that indicate where they must “travel” to collect information and goodies, and get their passports stamped. It’s a great way to point out campus resources, and fun to have a progressive party. All stamped passports should be thrown into a bin for a grand prize drawing at the conclusion of the event. A second approach might be to develop a local community guide passport of fun local destinations and things to do – places to eat, recreation options, historic sights. Distribute the passport to students and have them get stamped at the locations in your community listed in the passport with a grand prize drawing at the end of the semester.
Singing Telegrams/Balloon Bouquets
Get some balloons imprinted with your NCAAW theme and take orders for balloon bouquets, or if your group is very creative, singing telegrams. This is a great way to fundraise as well as get your message across. Get your items like helium, balloons, and string donated. Design healthy messages to attach to the bouquets. Ask dining services to donate free drink coupons to attach. If singing is your bag, come up with several healthy message songs to popular tunes and send out the quartet to deliver. (Hint: Get the person buying the telegram to designate the time and place of delivery to save time in filling your requests.)
Get on the program and plan some wacky team competition for half-time at the homecoming game, or make a parade float. You have a captive audience and a highly visible event to get your group’s name and message out there!
COORDINATE A DAY OF DIALOG AS AN OPENING EVENT FOR NCAAW
The purpose of a Day of Dialog is to encourage students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members on individual college and university campuses to engage in a day-long (or a significant portion thereof) productive discussion of alcohol-related problems and possible solutions. It is a structured and facilitated discussion that is planned by and includes representatives of each of the key stakeholders, and serves as a basis for collaborative, campus-based action planning that contributes to cultural change.
The Day of Dialog is, at its heart, a simple concept. To engage in a Day of Dialog means simply to take the time to get the right group of people into the right set of circumstances to allow meaningful discussion about a topic of common concern. Because attitudes, traditions, policies, environments, circumstances, and people will vary from campus to campus, each ‘Day of Dialogue” effort will be unique.
In this case, the “right group of people” is some combination of those who share a commitment to your particular campus and to the ideals of fraternity and sorority life—chapter members and leaders, national staff, national and local alumni volunteers, faculty and staff, and other.
The “right circumstances” are those that provide a clear goal, an appropriate meeting space, a meaningful agenda, a date and time that meets participants needs, and sufficient structure to allow the discussion to progress.
A “meaningful discussion” is one where all participants have access to critical information, where an atmosphere of trust and openness leads to honest sharing of ideas and concerns, where the purpose is to accomplish a common goal, and where one of the outcomes is a commitment to a next step or a plan. The “topic of common concern” is the prevalence of high-risk drinking on college campuses. The topic can be refined to focus on particular populations like resident students, athletes, fraternity/sorority members, etc.
Collaboration between the various parties is critical to the success of any campus-based change effort. The experiences of campuses that have already had such discussions can be shared and used by institutions that have yet to take the step. The designation of a national Day of Dialog can serve to spur the initiation of discussions that might not otherwise begin.
The 20023 Day of Dialog Program is sponsored by NASPA Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Knowledge Community and the Inter-Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Issues. It is initiated in part through the support of M-J Insurance. The program concept originated from the Greek Summit, a group that brings together representatives of higher education and international organizations to effect the change needed to help students’ behavior better reflect the founding principles of their organizations and the missions of their educational institutions. The idea for a national “Day of Dialogue” on the issues surrounding alcohol use within the Greek community emerged from the 1999 meeting of the Summit and was endorsed by the NASPA Fraternity/Sorority Network at its March, 2000 meeting.
If your campus is interested in hosting a Day of Dialog during the 2003 2004 academic year, contact:
Day of Dialog Steering Committee Chair
Executive Director, Sigma Kappa Sorority and Foundation