SONOR invites students to take a critical look at choices

Far from flying under the radar, one student group on campus has been busy all year with a variety of drug and alcohol campaigns.

SOcial NORming (SONOR), a marketing and advertising group within the Wellness Program, focuses on creating campaigns that promote awareness about substance use on campus.

“We don’t promote [drug and alcohol use], we don’t tell people not to do it, we’re just about giving people safe ways to do things.” SONOR research director Emily Yuill said. “We know we can’t really tell people, ‘don’t do drugs; don’t drink alcohol.’”

According to Yuill, the organization promotes their “Zero to Four and No More” program year-round, which encourages students to track the number of drinks they have when they go out.

“[Track] your drinks when you go out, and if you’re going to smoke weed, make sure you know where you’re getting it from, and do something safe with your friends,” Yuill said. “It’s all about being safe and healthy.”

A typical SONOR campaign includes the use of statistics.

The statistics SONOR uses, however, are not collected by the organization itself. Instead, numbers are gathered from national surveys the Wellness Program distributes to students via email.

“The Wellness Program uses two surveys – the Core Alcohol and Drug survey and the National College Health Assessment II survey,” Kristin Kreher, a student affairs intern and SONOR advisor, said. “[The Core Alcohol and Drug] survey occurs during even-numbered years and [the National College Health Assessment II survey] occurs during odd-numbered years.”

Every undergraduate student receives the Wellness Program surveys, and, according to Kreher, anywhere from 600 to 1,000 Bradley students participate and respond to the surveys.

“Bradley gets both Bradley-specific results and national results,” Kreher said.

According to the national surveys, Bradley does not rank significantly higher than other schools in drug and alcohol usage among students.

“Even though social media and word of mouth may make it seem like all students are partying fully and frequently, these surveys prove that is not an accurate reflection of the majority of Bradley students,” Kreher said. “SONOR strives to correct these misperceptions and encourage safer, smarter decisions by informing students of what the norms are.”

Some students on campus expressed their familiarity with SONOR’s various campaigns.

“I think [they] do what they can [to keep students aware] without being too uptight about everything,” Kyle Kapraun, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said. “I have seen some of the posters, and I think my [Resident Advisors] currently have their bulletin board covered in alcohol and drug awareness for this month.”

Using statistics gathered from the national surveys, SONOR hosts events that occur throughout the year at a variety of campus locations.

Before the Macklemore concert in February, members of the organization were stationed in the Student Center handing out brownies with flyers statingBradley-specific statistics on them. The attached flyers said, “88% of Bradley students have not used marijuana in the last 30 days.”

“Usually we do a lot of giveaways – snacks, lanyards, highlighters, water bottles,” Yuill said.

Before spring break, SONOR hosted a designated driver campaign.

“On the Thursday before break, [SONOR members] passed out green tank tops that said, ‘Kiss me, I’m the DD’ with a stat on the back,” Kreher said. “The campaign’s goal was to promote designated driving over spring break, especially with St. Patrick’s Day.”

SONOR has made themselves well-known on the Hilltop, and students are kept aware of the university’s substance use culture from their outreach efforts and campaigns.

“I do not put myself in situations that may have the presence of alcohol or drugs to really know if that is a problem or not,” Kapraun said. “I assume it happens here at Bradley just like any campus, so [it’s] average.”

For the remainder of the year, SONOR will host activities at both the April and May Late Night BU events, and will also host their annual “Smoke Out” to promote awareness of the dangers of smoking.

“We don’t try to preach our statistics to anybody,” Yuill said. “We like when people can recognize them on their own, because that means they’ve seen something that we’ve done, and when we can make a visual impact and we can get people to recognize something … that’s our goal. We want awareness, and we want people to be making healthy decisions. That’s the Wellness Program’s goal.”

This year’s Core Alcohol and Drug survey is expected to be distributed this spring.