Southeast Embracing Responsible Redhawks Campaign

Responsible RedhawkCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 19, 2014 – Raphael Pellenard, a Southeast Missouri State University junior from Marseilles, France, says the new Responsible Redhawks Guide due out this fall on campus will help prevent students from falling into some common college pitfalls.

“You make your mistakes, and you learn from your mistakes,” said Pellenard, a junior biomedical science and chemistry major and a Towers West residence hall advisor. “This guides you through the mistakes so you don’t do those things again.”

When Southeast Missouri State University’s new students arrive on campus for the start of the fall 2014semester this week, they will receive a Responsible Redhawks Guide, a new initiative chock-full of their rights and responsibilities as members of the Southeast community.

The guide will pull together into one location University information concerning the Code of Student Conduct, minimum requirements for academic standing and financial aid, academic honesty, select Residence Life policies, Responsible Intervention and Good Samaritan Guidelines, sexual assault definitions, parking guidelines, information relative to student organizations and much more. New students will receive the guide in their packets at the annual Welcome Convocation Aug. 22 at the Show Me Center.

“The University has embraced a theme of responsibility for the coming year,” said Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students.

Dr. Kendra Skinner, director of Residence Life, has assisted Below this summer in compiling the guide.Responsible-Redhawks-News-Release-2

“I’m excited that I had the opportunity to spend the last six months putting the Responsible Redhawks Guide together for our campus. I believe this publication will make it much easier for students to find University rules and regulations in one place without searching through multiple websites,” Skinner said. “The guide contains helpful contact and resource information from a variety of campus offices that students may be able to refer to throughout the academic year.”

In addition to the print version, the guide will be placed online at http://www.semo.edu/RedhawksGuide for easy access and regular updates, should they be needed, she said.

“It will be extremely helpful,” said Ashley Medina, a senior TV/film and advertising major from East Prairie, Mo., and a Cheney Hall residence hall advisor. “Students are going to come to us (residence hall advisors)” with questions, she said, and the Responsible Redhawks Guide will be a useful resource in providing answers.

Zach Barker, a Southeast senior biomedical science and chemistry major from East Prairie, Mo., and a residence hall advisor in LaFerla Hall, agreed.

“I like the idea of a catch-all reference” because there are so many different issues about which students should be aware, he said.

“It’s also an accountability tool,” Barker said, because students will now have information on a variety of campus rules and regulations at their fingertips. When faced with possible consequences, “we can say ‘you had your guide and should have looked at it.’”

The guide is part of a larger Responsible Redhawks campaign that begins this fall and includes the rollout of an awareness program focused on prevention and risk-reducing behaviors among students and the importance of bystander intervention.

The campaign will begin with the distribution of the Responsible Redhawks Guide and will continue with programming efforts and giveaways with related messaging across a breadth of University departments throughout the year, Below said.

“We will have a booth at the Welcome Back Picnic (on Sunday, Aug. 24),” said Dr. Randy Carter, assistant dean of students. “We think it will be well received because it’s positive messaging.”

The campaign features two components – one focused on prevention and the other on responsible intervention, Carter said. The prevention component was launched in March by Southeast’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee and is in cooperation with and funded in part by Partners in Prevention, Missouri’s higher education substance abuse consortium. Students will begin seeing posters and will receive T-shirts with risk-reducing messages on them such as avoiding binge drinking, using designated drivers, and reporting bullying and hazing.

The Responsible Redhawks campaign will be discussed with new students at Southeast 101 sessions during opening week. Resident advisors in Southeast’s residence halls also will reinforce these messages and discuss college expectations with students during floor meetings as the fall semester begins.

In addition, Below sent an email this summer to all new students enrolled at Southeast this fall requiring those under 21 to complete MyStudentBody.com, an online essentials course about alcohol, drugs and sexual violence. MyStudentBody.com is used in schools nationwide and was developed with $6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Below says that while the majority of Southeast students do not binge drink, 80 percent of students will try alcohol. That’s why the Responsible Redhawks campaign is important, Carter said.

“If we prevent one incident of binge drinking or alcohol poisoning, we are doing our job,” he said. “Our goal is to educate and help with risk-reducing behavior.”

Carter says the Responsible Redhawks campaign also will encourage students to step up as a bystander when involved or confronted with friends and acquaintances engaged in high-risk behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.

Efforts to educate students about intervention protocols and the University’s Responsible Intervention and Good Samaritan Guidelines will be highlighted as part of the responsible intervention component, Carter said.

The Responsible Intervention and Good Samaritan Guidelines impact students who may not want to report incidents they observe for fear of possible disciplinary action, Carter said. The guidelines ease these concerns and promote bystander intervention even when Code violations occur. The University considers the positive impact of taking responsibility to act in an emergency situation when dealing with an incident. This means that in most circumstances, no formal University disciplinary actions or sanctions will be imposed for alcohol or drug infractions if a student reports that an emergency is occurring with another student even if both students are violating the Code. However, the incident will be documented, and alcohol and/or drug education may be required as a condition of deferring disciplinary actions or sanctions, Carter said.

“We want to educate students about how to intervene in emergencies and how to report” these incidents, he said.

Carter says the new Responsible Redhawks Campaign underscores the Southeast STEP UP program, a bystander intervention initiative already in place. Southeast STEP UP provides students with information on how to bridge from being an observer or bystander to someone who reacts or intervenes when they witness problematic behavior on campus. These situations may involve students who have had too much to drink and those who mention harming themselves or others, he said. Students also are asked to step up when they notice violent behavior, an altercation, that someone is injured or in danger or someone has been hazed. Southeast STEP UP encourages students to assume responsibility when they witness these types of situations and step in and help, Carter said. More information about Southeast STEP UP is available at http://www.semo.edu/stuconduct/stepup.html.