U seeks to boost peer responsibility

The STAND UP campaign seeks to spur students to make safety a priority.

by Evelina Smirnitskaya

Drink, drank, drunk, dead. DonâÄôt let your friend drown in his own puke.
Starting Tuesday, thatâÄôs one of the messages that will be displayed on posters around the University of Minnesota as part of the STAND UP campaign  promoting peer responsibility.
First introduced by the Office for Student Affairs  to address sexual violence after multiple allegations of incidences  at University fraternities last fall, the campaign has since expanded into a campus-wide initiative.
The campaign is to be launched in three phases over the course of this semester.
The first will focus on high-risk drinking, followed by general safety and sexual violence prevention to overlap with the national Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for Student Affairs, said OSA has partnered with University police, the Aurora Center and a number of student leaders to incorporate different campus programs such as the UMPDâÄôs annual Public Safety Week  into a single campaign.
The posters, Rinehart said, were inspired by the success of The Other Hangover campaign, which included student-designed ads showcasing negative social consequences of binge drinking.
The campaign was first introduced within the greek community. OSA paired up with the Aurora Center to promote sexual violence awareness. But Becky Redetzke-Field, a coordinator at the center, said the process has always been about making it a campus-wide initiative, as the University focused on getting students âÄúemotionally investedâÄù about campus safety.
Rinehart said that in the past the administrationâÄôs approach was to react to bad situations as they arise. STAND UP is meant to be more proactive, he said.
Drew Horwood,  director of campus relations for the Minnesota Student Association  said it takes âÄúa big sparkâÄù such as the reports of sexual assault at fraternities to spur action in the community, as isolated events are always easier to turn to for incentive. But Rinehart said STAND UP is more about addressing âÄúweekend-by-weekend, day-by-day events.âÄù
Bad decisions caused by alcohol and risky behavior, Rinehart said, are part of college life but can cause as much damage as âÄúhigh profile incidents.âÄù
University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said that in crimes around campus, especially on weekend nights, âÄúalcohol is always a common theme.âÄù Helping a drunken friend home, he said, might prevent them from becoming a victim of a crime.
Rinehart said the main message is âÄúIt is OK to be a little obnoxious to get somebody to stay safeâÄù and intervene before events turn dangerous.
âÄúWe can have all the police in the world, but sometimes it comes down to having people who care about one another,âÄù he said.
In addition to posters, the University is planning to use social media for promotion. But to be truly successful, Rinehart said STAND UP must be based on student involvement.
Horwood said the best way to spread the message of peer accountability is through involvement of the student community as a whole âÄî in particular student groups.
He said MSA is treating STAND UP as a challenge to students and is organizing a complementary campaign in response.
âÄúThis is not something that is just rooted in what the University can do for us,âÄù Horwood said. âÄúA lot of the problems come from the actions of students.âÄù