By Marley J. Doring, Program Coordinator, Center for Communication and Health Issues
What the duck? Dangerous drinking prevention wins! RU SURE is excited to announce that they waddled away from the 15th annual Homecoming Charity Bed Races with three trophies while sporting their “Don’t Get Too Ducked Up” campaign gear. RU SURE finished in 2nd place overall and won two additional trophies for “best costume” and “best bed design." RU SURE is a campaign committed to preventing dangerous drinking among Rutgers University students. The goal of the campaign is to educate Rutgers community members about the misperceptions of dangerous drinking and reduce the number of students who develop dangerous drinking habits.
The Homecoming Charity Bed Race is an annual competition that takes place on the College Avenue campus. This year, the race had one of the highest number of participants consisting of 56 different teams all competing in a competition judged on message, effort, creativity. In addition to donating fidget spinners and stress balls to be given to local elementary school students, each team was responsible for designing and decorating an old hospital bed based on their theme and group message. After having their costumes and bed design judged by a panel of celebrity judges, including Chancellor Francine Conway and women’s basketball coach Coquese Washington, they raced down Sicard Street to gain additional points for their teams.
Over the past few weeks, students in SC&I Professor of Communication Lea Stewart’s Media, Marketing, and Communication class, along with CHI Program Coordinator Marley Doring and MCM Student Ronique Gatewood, split up into teams to decorate the bed, create goodie bags, and work on social media techniques for making promotional content to raise engagement on the RU SURE Instagram and Tiktok. During the event, the whole class dressed in yellowduck-themed outfits and conducted interviews while distributing goodie bags to educate other students on RUSURE’s campaign. Each goody bag included a fun rubber duck, a piece of candy, an informational card about RU SURE, and a Liquid IV hydration drink.
At the event, the class distributed nearly 150 goodie bags and conducted outreach with hundreds of Rutgers students. Even if students were not aware of the RU SURE campaign they were eager to learn more about how to prevent dangerous drinking. In an interview, one student learned about the campaign and said, “I wasn’t sure what RU SURE was, but after talking to you it’s a really cool campaign that everyone on campus should know about. Especially with the frat presence here, it’s easy for students to forget how to drink safely and responsibly.” This quote shows the intent and importance of this campaign. Students are aware of the dangerous drinking culture on campus, making it easy for them to believe this is normal. RU SURE’s goal at the bed races was to educate students about the misperceptions of dangerous drinking through peer-to-peer outreach.
Before the race, RU SURE collaborated with on campus “RU Party Duck” influencer to gain more traction for both campaigns’ messaging. Our custom RU SURE rubber ducks made their appearance on “RU Party Duck’s social channels to encourage responsibility at events where drinking is involved. Our attempts to widen our audience and have more engagement seemed successful when a student at the race said, “OMG! I took a picture with this duck at a party last week, what is this all about?” and proceeded to learn more about what RU SURE does on campus by talking to our representatives and following our social media accounts.
For more information about the RU SURE campaign, visit their social media accounts @RUSURERutgers on Instagram and TikTok.
About RU SURE
RU SURE is a social norms marketing campaign designed to correct first-year students’ misperceptions of dangerous drinking as a norm at Rutgers. The campaign’s outreach is led by students taking the Media, Marketing, and Communication course in the School of Communication and Information under the supervision of Dr. Lea Stewart, who is the director of the Center for Communication and Health Issues. Students design tabling events, as well as late-night events, to disseminate the RU SURE message that 2/3 Rutgers students stop at 3 drinks or fewer, and 1 in 5 don’t drink at all. Their goals include reducing dangerous drinking on campus through peer-to-peer outreach and to provide alcohol and other drug-free events to students.