MTSU Health Services is pleased to continue its social norms marketing campaign surrounding substance use, or the lack thereof, by MTSU students.  The campaign is based on the results of two student health surveys, completed in the 2009-2010 academic year. 

Throughout the year, you may notice posters, magnets, and other items touting the campaign slogan, “Be One of the Majority!” The campaign is designed to highlight the large percentage of students who are choosing not to use substances like tobacco and marijuana, and/or who are choosing to limit their consumption of alcohol.

The four survey results on which the Be One campaign will focus include:
• 79% of MTSU students did not use marijuana in the last 30 days
• 2/3 of MTSU students did not smoke cigarettes in the last 30 days
• 64% of MTSU students drink three or fewer drinks when they party
• 60% of MTSU students drink one or fewer alcoholic drinks in an average week.

We fully expect that these messages will continue to surprise students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and may even be challenged by them. The Be One messages stand in stark contrast to the stereotypes that exist about college student behavior, which are frequently exploited in movies like Old School and Animal House. However, our statistics are supported by multiple national research studies which consistently document a large gap between what students perceive to be reality in terms of substance use by their peers and what is actually the reality based on reported use.

Both of our assessments, which collected data from over 1100 randomly selected students, were web-based, confidential and voluntary to best minimize self-report bias. Additionally, the demographics of students who responded to the survey are quite similar to the demographics of the overall student population.

While many alcohol and drug prevention efforts have negative undertones, using scare tactics and extreme examples, social norms campaigns stick to the positive. The Be One campaign is designed to recognize the many students who are already making responsible choices when it comes to alcohol and other drugs. At the same time, it informs students who may not currently be making responsible choices that their experiences are not indicative of the “true” MTSU college experience.

The Be One campaign is funded through grant monies provided by the Coalition for Healthy and Safe Campus Communities.

It is our hope that this campaign will continue to generate conversation and discussion across campus. To facilitate a home for this discussion, Health Services has created this website with information about the survey data and the infrastructure to support comments and replies. Please visit the site often and join the discussion.

When it comes to the use of alcohol and other drugs, Be One of the Majority!

Research indicates that faculty and staff can be positive or negative influences on a student’s decisions regarding substance use.  To be a positive influence, consider adopting one or more of these strategies in relation to the “Be One” campaign:

  1. Incorporate one of the “Be One” messages into your campus email signature.
  2. Request a “Be One” poster or magnet from the MTSU Health Promotion office (healthpr@mtsu.edu), and display it where students will see it.
  3. Be conscious of any behavior changes in your students.  Make referrals to Health Services or to Counseling Services if you are concerned.
  4. Be aware of your language.  What you say and don’t say can impact student opinions of campus culture (e.g., “I know you’re all going out to party this weekend, so I know better than to schedule a quiz for Monday.”).
  5. Apply student experiences to the concepts and theories of your lectures (e.g., effects of alcohol or tobacco on respiration in a biology course).
  6. Contribute to the research by encouraging students to study health and social issues, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.
  7. Integrate course projects that challenge students to evaluate and improve their own health.
  8. Make a commitment to understand the MTSU drug and alcohol culture and learn what is “normal” for MTSU students.  “Normal” might not be what you think.
  9. Integrate discussions about the MTSU drug and alcohol culture in your classes and organizations.
  10. Promote alcohol-free events on and off campus.  Be familiar with them through the events calendar at www.mtsu.edu/whatsup.

Do you see yourself in the “Be One” messages?  Consider one or more of these suggestions for how you can help spread the word.

  1. Post a “Be One” poster, magnet, or dry erase board in your residence hall room or apartment.  Contact MTSU Health Promotion at healthpr@mtsu.edu for a free promotional item.  Let us know if you have other ideas or suggestions for how to spread the message.
  2. Verbally challenge any misperceptions you hear about MTSU students.
  3. Promote and attend alcohol-free events on and off campus.  Visit www.mtsu.edu/whatsup for a current calendar of events. 
  4. People watch.  Find a place to sit on campus during a class break and count the number of people you see NOT smoking.  Share your observations with a friend.
  5. Consider volunteering with the Raider Health Corps.  Information about this volunteer group is available at www.mtsu.edu/healthpro.
  6. Post facebook pictures and youtube videos of you and your friends having fun without abusing substances.
  7. Join a student organization like Smoke Free MT or Colleges Against Cancer.
  8. Attend a meeting of the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of Rutherford County (CADCOR).  This group welcomes the input and participation of youth and college students as it works to create a healthier community.  Meeting information is available at www.cadcor.org.
  9. Mentor middle school and high school students.  Make sure they know that alcohol and drugs don’t have to be part of their future college experience.  Don’t assume they already know.
  10. Educate yourself on substance abuse and its effects on a community.