Students raise awareness of new campus program

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December 13, 2013

By Molly Reger '14

Pictured from left to right are CSB/SJU seniors Erin Noel, Cody Lynch, Clayton Truhler and Molly Reger.

Type the phrase 'bystander intervention program' into Google and the results are seemingly endless. Senior students, in partnership with faculty and administration, are working to raise awareness about a bystander intervention program on the CSB and SJU campuses.

Students enrolled in "Strategic Communication Campaigns" taught by Erin Szabo, CSB/SJU associate professor of communication, are raising brand awareness about the program to highlight issues of assault, violence and name-calling.

The brand aims to promote participation in a training program that has been developed by Lori Klapperich, CSB/SJU associate director of health promotions. This program encourages students to think critically and teaches strategies to intervene in challenging social situations.

"The training encourages talking about issues that go unarticulated and provides students with skills on how to intervene," Erin Noel, CSB/SJU senior said. "This campaign will underscore the meaning of what it means to be a Bennie and a Johnnie."

This course has an experiential learning component. This requires students to work with an outside organization to build professional and interpersonal relationships with community partners.

The partnership between Szabo and Klapperich started over 10 years ago when a group of students from Szabo's class started a campus campaign called "Stop @ Buzzed."

Their partnership is one of mutual respect and understanding.

"Lori provides students with the tools they need to conduct campaigns, while pushing students to independently problem solve," Szabo said. "It's the ideal educational balance, in my opinion."

"There is a lot of give and take between Erin and me," Klapperich said. "We hope to work together to solidify the partnership between students' understanding of the theoretical side and the learning side of branding."

Throughout the semester students have been collecting, planning and researching information to create a brand that will resonate with students. By conducting student focus groups, Szabo's class has helped Klapperich to further develop the training program to cater to students' needs.

"With students' help the training has evolved. It is a learning piece that does not remain static," Klapperich said.

"Students are a wonderful asset to this type of campaign," Szabo said. "They are able to tap into the life experiences, emotional connections and general interests of their peers in a more meaningful way than can professors or administrators."

The hope for students, Szabo and Klapperich is that the brand will promote the training program and lay the groundwork for a campaign that will connect the two.

"This course is one of my favorite courses to teach, because it is immensely rewarding to see students become so vested in their own creation," Szabo said. "When you spend so much time gaining a deep understanding of an issue, you can't help but become passionate about it."