VITAL signs

Students spearhead campaign on alcohol poisoning awareness.

VITAL signs

Strategic Communication students handed out can huggers on campus as part of the VITALS campaign launched last fall.

VITAL signs

Students spearhead campaign on alcohol poisoning awareness.

Downing more than four or five drinks in a couple of hours can lead to more than a bad hangover, it can bring on alcohol poisoning and in some cases, death.

A recent survey on campus found that almost one-third of TCU undergraduate students report that either they or their friends have experienced alcohol poisoning, and many don’t recognize the signs or know when to call for medical help.

But a new student-led campaign is working to increase awareness and knowledge about the symptoms of this dangerous condition. Launched in November, this peer-to-peer campaign is dubbed VITALS, which is an acronym for the signs of potential alcohol poisoning: Vomiting, Incoherence, low Temperature, Absence of color, Low breathing and Seizure.

Photo The campaign, funded by a $50,000 grant from The Century Council, a national non-profit fighting underage drinking and drunk driving, is being carried out by students in the Strategic Communication program in the Schieffer School of Journalism. It is an offshoot of an earlier campaign called PROOF, which scored well in the 2009 American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition.

“This grant, a first of its kind for a campaign course at the School, will be used to further develop, execute and research a peer-to-peer campaign to educate students about alcohol poisoning,” says John Lumpkin, director of the Schieffer School.

VITALS is a collaborative effort between several strategic communication faculty members and their classes, plus other campus departments, including the Alcohol and Drug Education Center.

The need to implement a health communication campaign like VITALS at TCU is supported by a benchmark survey conducted by Wendy Macias, assistant professor of strategic communication, which revealed that almost one-third of TCU undergraduate students report that they or their friends have experienced alcohol poisoning. The survey also found that students were unsure about when to seek medical help.

The campaign involves several classes in the department, including an advertising class taught by Bill Johnson, instructor of advertising, over the summer and a class led by associate professor Amiso George, where the campaign is part of the curriculum. Students in George’s class formed the public relations firm UltraViolet PR and began promoting the VITALS effort via the web and social media, including Facebook and Twitter. They also staged several interactive events on campus and held a 5K Run called Race for Responsibility.

In October, Amanda Garrison, a junior communications major, traveled to Washington, D.C., to present the campaign to the Century Council.

Julie O’Neil, division head of strategic communication, adds, “The scope of this project is more substantial than those afforded by most local internships for our students. Our students’ campaign — if successful — may be reproduced on university campuses across the nation.”
On the Web:
TCU Vitals

Your comments are welcome


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.