A three-year social norming campaign at the University of Northern Colorado launched Sept. 28 during the school's homecoming celebration. The "Truth Fairy" campaign is intended to correct misperceptions about alcohol abuse and impaired driving among college students.
UNC was selected last year to participate in the statewide college-focused initiative, spearheaded by the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health (COBH) and the Colorado Persistent Drunk Driver (PDD) Committee, to educate college students about the impacts of high risk drinking and DUIs before they experience unintended consequences associated with alcohol consumption. The campaign will be overseen by UNC's Prevention Education and Advocacy Services.
"Social norming campaigns at college campuses across the country have proven to make positive changes with student populations and we plan to do the same at UNC," said Christine Flavia with the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health. "Avoiding DUI is simply a matter of planning ahead and making good decisions. Our plan is to give students the information and tools they need to make smart choices."
The social norming approach, which guides the Truth Fairy campaign, aims to correct misperceptions by highlighting positive choices students make concerning alcohol and drug use. According to the National College Health Assessment, students believe that the majority of their peers are heavy and frequent drinkers. Data shows this is inaccurate and that the majority of students use alcohol responsibly and do not binge drink. Using research-based messaging obtained through surveys conducted on the UNC campus, the Truth Fairy campaign will correct these common misconceptions, ultimately reducing high risk drinking behaviors and impaired driving.
The campaign's mascot, Ruth the Truth Fairy, will communicate educational information to students and other members of the campus community in an engaging and interactive format. Information will be disseminated through various outlets, including the campaign's website (www.TruthFairyUNC.com), campus-wide posters featuring Ruth, online Internet banners, campus ads, social media and campus outreach events.
The campaign program will be closely monitored to ensure effectiveness on campus. Campaign results will be provided towards the end of each spring semester. Funds for the campaign are being provided entirely through COBH from the PDD cash fund, generated from surcharges assessed on convicted impaired driving offenders. For additional information about the campaign, contact Prevention Education and Advocacy Services, Prevention Coordinator, Brittany Bohl at 970-351-1136.
About UNC's Prevention Education and Advocacy Services Office
Prevention Education and Advocacy Services is under the umbrella of the UNC Counseling Center and oversees the Center for Peer Education (CPE). CPE is dedicated to educating student peers about alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, mental health, sexual health and overall wellness issues impacting college students and collaborates with campus and community organizations to provide educational programs. Examples include:
- New Student Orientation: More than 2,500 incoming students participate in an Interactive Theatre session during New Student Orientation each summer. This session educates students about alcohol and high-risk drinking, sex and consent, safer sex practices and STDs/STIs, prescription drug abuse and campus resources. UNC Counseling Center, Prevention Education and Advocacy Services, the Dean of Students Office and the UNC Police Department integrate educational information throughout the theater and provide answers to student questions. Counselors with the UNC Counseling Center are on hand to provide student support as needed. The Interactive Theatre has been identified as a model for prevention education from other institutions across the nation.
- Late-Night, Alcohol-Free and Drug-Free Events: Wednesday night has been identified as a traditionally high risk drinking night for UNC students. CPE offers BINGO Night as a late-night alternative to drinking that is interactive, fun and educational (average attendance of 300 students).
- Party with a Plan: Since 2007, UNC has effectively promoted a 0-1-2-3 plan to communicate responsible drinking guidelines. Each number corresponds with a strategy for responsible drinking, including 0 — Choose not to drink for a variety of reasons; 1— No more than 1 drink an hour; 2 — no more than 2 times per week; 3—No more than 3 drinks in one day.
- Drink Coasters: CPE distributes many resources that promote responsible drinking. This free resource can be used to test alcoholic drinks for some drugs used for sexual assault.
About the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health
The Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is dedicated to strengthening the health, resiliency, and recovery of Coloradans through quality and effective behavioral health prevention, intervention and treatment.
About the Persistent Drunk Driving Committee
The Persistent Drunk Driving Committee was formed following enactment of the Persistent Drunk Driver Act of 1998. The Department of Human Services, along with State Judicial and the Departments of Transportation and Revenue, are charged with developing and implementing programs that are intended to deter persistent drunk driving and are also intended to educate the public, with particular emphasis on the education of young drivers, regarding the dangers of persistent drunk driving.