BE Wise campaign educates students about alcohol poisoning

cupsOver the past several years, alcohol poisoning has been a growing problem among students. As a way to address this issue, the Division of Student Affairs is kicking off a new campaign, "BE Wise,”  this semester to help educate students about alcohol poisoning. The BE Wise campaign takes a harm-reduction approach that creatively informs students about the dangers of alcohol poisoning, how to recognize the signs and what they should do if someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning. The campaign is supported by a gift from SU alumna Susan Cohen.

Student Affairs has been working with the Newhouse-based student public relations firm Hill Communications, which helped craft the campaign’s messaging, as well as developing the marketing and promotional strategies. The purpose of BE Wise is to equip students with the knowledge to make safer decisions, as opposed to telling students not to drink.

“It’s important that students know we are not telling them not to drink,” says SU junior Britini Coe, the Hill Communications account supervisor for the BE Wise Campaign. “We just want them to be wise and make smart decisions when they do drink.”

BE Wise has three main messages: to “Be Real” and know your limits, to “Be There” and make the call when someone is in need of help and to “Be Aware” by knowing the signs of alcohol poisoning referred to by the “C.U.P.S.” acronym – Cold skin, Unresponsiveness, Puking and Slow breathing.

“Our primary goal with this campaign is to reduce high-risk drinking situations," says Cory Wallack, director of the Counseling Center. "We really wanted to create a campaign that helped students reflect on their behaviors, learn from each other’s mistakes and be safe.”

drunkowlRounded, a Web development firm that is co-founded and staffed by a number of Syracuse University alums, produced a dynamic and interactive Web site for the campaign, as well as the signature design of the BE Wise owl. The site features professionally produced videos, an interactive Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) calculator, quizzes and a list of phone numbers students can call in an alcohol-poisoning situation, which can be texted to the user’s cell phone from the Web site. In addition, the Facts page provides a visual presentation of relevant information students might not necessarily consider as a result of their drinking behaviors.

During the course of the spring semester, students from the Hill Communications team will implement the campaign on campus in a number of ways, including its weekly #BEWise Wednesdays, featured on the Living SU social media channels.  The campaign will continue on after this semester, into the 2013-14 academic year.

To learn about the BE Wise campaign, visit bewise.syr.edu. For questions or inquiries about integrating the campaign into existing programs and curriculum, contact Health and Wellness Promotions at healthpromotions@syr.edu.