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UISG defines new Wingman safety campaign

BY KRISTEN EAST | NOVEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Student leaders say a new safety campaign launched last week encompasses a handful of the safety goals they've been seeking to implement.

"We wanted a term that resonated better with college students," the University of Iowa Student Government Vice President Brittany Caplin "[The Wingman Safety Campaign] is the idea that you never leave your friends behind."

A resolution passed by the UISG Senate Tuesday night defines a wingman as "someone who protects a friend in a dangerous partying environment."

The Wingman Campaign comprises three pillars: a 24-hour unisex cab service, the Responsible Actions Protocol, and a partnership with Red Watch Band. The campaign will be promoted with T-shirts, advertisements, and UISG's website, Caplin said.

UISG is looking into a 24-hour unisex cab service that would be free for all students. The Responsible Actions Protocol states if a student were to help another student who has been drinking, they would not get in trouble. UISG will also partner with Red Watch Band — a dangerous-drinking training program — again to ensure students are educated about responsible drinking.

UISG members first began working on the campaign over the summer, and it was launched on last month during a UISG Safety Awareness Fair.

However, some UI administrators disapproved of the name, Caplin said, because they believe it does not reflect the serious intent of the campaign. Still, Caplin said she and other UISG members don't think students will perceive it negatively.

"It's a controversial term depending on whom you talk to," Caplin said, and UISG officials wanted a term that could easily resonate with students. "Some [administrators] think it has a negative connotation."

Karla Miller, the executive director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, said Wingman could be controversial because the word isn't gender-neutral.

"People try to get into more neutral language that isn't based on any particular gender," she said. "Now, instead of saying chairmen, they say chair. [Not] picking a term that can mean both men and women, they could get some criticism for that."

Miller suggested UISG use the term "wing men and women" instead of "wingman."

"If they're presenting it as a concept, it doesn't mean just men are going to do it," she said. "I think it'll be a very positive program."

Alison Kiss, the executive director of the national program Security On Campus, said UI administrators shouldn't be concerned about the campaign's name, and she applauded the campaign's mission.

"Anytime a campaign draws on bystander intervention or brings in the community as a whole, we view it very positively," Kiss said. "The types of programs that are student-run and taking ownership on safety of campus are always successful."


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