I just met these new friends on Friday, but they are quickly becoming some of my favorite people in the Twittersphere (I guess they’re also on Facebook — but, meh…). I think the biggest challenges for a lot of colleges and universities is trying to figure out how to frame the conversation around making good choices in a way that respects personal choice, honors the need to educate and inform, and avoids the dreaded “preachy” label.
It may be too early to tell, but I think Indiana University Bloomington is on to something with the Party Animals:
While the approach and tag line “Take care, not risks. Keep the party alive.” hasn’t struck a chord with everybody (online commentary from local newspaper) — I couldn’t stop laughing (in a good way!) when I caught some of the videos the other day. You should take a look:
Sam Pushed the Limit: “Even cheetahs need to pace themselves. Know your limit and stick to it.”
Panzebraphant: “Plan ahead. Get a DD.”
We Need to Talk: “Safe sex. Less regrets.”
Hay and Oats: “Use your horse sense. Don’t go home with creepers.”
But here’s the thing, behind the “cheeky” are some really important messages that are important, and necessary, for a college to share with students. I encourage you all to take a few minutes to explore the Street Smart website and look at all of the resources that IUB has made readily available for students. They tackle the very serious subjects of Personal Health, Social Life, Campus Safety and Mental Health. For those that clicked on links and rolled your eyes — keep reading. Campus resources, offices, phone numbers, hours and important messages — one website, a consistent message, in the voice that is anything but “preachy.”
As for the “Join the conversation:” part of the campaign… I can tell you from personal experience, they’re off to a good start. In a short period of time I’ve found the Party Animals to be responsive, engaging and hilarious. I have no doubt in the near future you’ll see a hashtag campaign in support of people’s favorite animals — either that, or I’ll start one: #TeamFred all the way.
A few gems from @FredatIU:
Yeah, I get it. I know why so many people are calling it “stupid.” But here’s the thing — I’m willing to bet they are rarely in a position to witness first hand the impact of lost/missed messages. If it takes a bull, giraffe, dog and panda to get the point across — I say more power to them. And heck, even if it doesn’t take off — they have a fan in me! Thank you Street Smart Party Animals!!
Are there other examples out there of colleges, universities and nonprofits doing good work in educating students and young adults about making good choices? Please feel free to join the conversation!