Drake and her students received tremendous support from Rebecca Gordon, assistant vice president for equity, diversity, and inclusion and Title IX coordinator for the College. The Title IX office provided funding for the campaign materials, as well.
The class corresponded with faculty, posted information over social media channels, and shared a public service announcement on campus radio station WONC-FM 89.1 during the month of April 2021. The campaign took on even more meaning as April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. After tracking the initial response, Drake suggested a key change in their methods.
“I initially sent out the campaign materials to faculty, asking them to take the pledge, but … we saw a huge bump in pledges when I assigned a team of students the task of emailing every professor who hadn't yet taken the pledge,” Drake said.
“I had the opportunity to send out personalized emails to some professors,” said Egan. “I explained to them my ‘why’ and what it would mean to me as a student if they took the pledge to be an ally. The response was amazing.”
One hundred full-time faculty members and administrators took the pledge. Drake explained that while the initial effort was geared toward full-time faculty to keep it more manageable, she hopes to expand the campaign in the future so students can ask part-time faculty and more staff to take the pledge.
Along with the large number of pledges, faculty provided beneficial feedback during surveys taken before and after the campaign. Some expressed hesitancy to take the pledge due to wanting more information, which allowed the class to adjust and make amendments to their tip sheet, including guidance from the Title IX office. The survey results will help Drake and her students fine-tune their message in the future. Drake also hopes to add community events to the campaign when COVID restrictions allow.
Those involved in Be an Ally saw it as a success beyond the numerical results.
Drake recognized the impact that working on a social marketing campaign had on her students and how it will benefit them personally and professionally.
“I want my students to be advocates for their discipline, and on a more immediate, practical level, I want them to enter the job market being able to speak to the change that they've enacted in their communities,” Drake said.
“Student reflections showed that they were happy to be working on a hands-on, real-life project that had implications beyond a grade,” Drake added. “They were also happy to be learning about an issue that was previously on their minds, but that they may not have had a lot of background information on.”
Tong shared her hope that both student campaigns result in an ongoing conversation, because the issue of sexual assault is too important not to discuss.
“I hope people will be more aware of sexual assault and talk about it more because it does happen,” she said. “As a community, we need to normalize talking about it and making people aware.”
Egan reflected on the experience as not only an opportunity to practice the very skills vital to a career in marketing, but a symbol of the power of the North Central community.
“This was an incredible and rare experience to have as a sophomore in college,” she said. “It made me realize how much I love marketing, and how so many people can work together to create something amazing.
“Especially during this time of a pandemic, it can feel like everyone is out of touch. This campaign brought professors and students back together with a new kind of connection. Being a part of this campaign made me proud to be a student here where I not only am cared for but can be a direct influence on my professors the same way they are for me.”
North Central faculty and staff who want to take the pledge should look for more information around Be an Ally in fall 2021 or contact Professor Carly Drake.