Armadillo photos part of newest campaign to remind students to stay safe on Dillo Day

Paulina Firozi

Pictures of plastic armadillos and red Solo cups have been posted around campus to remind Northwestern students about responsible behavior on Dillo Day.

This newest strategy for the safety campaign Smart Dillo, created by the Dean of Students’ office and the Norris University Center Marketing team, seeks to use humor to communicate an important message to students, said Norris Marketing Manager James McHaley.

“The first objective was to not make it as harsh as it’s been in the last couple of years,” McHaley said. “There’s been some pretty direct messages. We wanted it to be lighter but to still enforce the same messages.”

The fliers placed on sidewalks and posted around campus display eight designs that bear the main messages the University wanted to convey about Dillo Day. The designs include an armadillo dressed up in a cap and gown reminding students to “Keep your future in mind” and an armadillo holding a phone and encouraging students to act in accordance with NU’s Responsible Action Protocol and call 911 in an emergency.

Grace Kaufman, a graduate assistant to the assistant dean of students, said it is important to connect to students on a level that they understand while informing them of the University’s available services.

“Dillo Day is a big activity for a lot of students on campus,” she said. “And rather than scare anyone into feeling like they don’t have resources on campus or they don’t know what some of the rules are or what some of the consequences will be to some of their behavior, we wanted to take the opportunity to educate them and make sure that they knew what was going on before they participated in any activities both on and off the Lakefill.”

The photos are also posted on Smart Dillo’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which members of the campaign said were an important part of communicating with students.

Kaufman said spearheaders of the campaign conducted informal polls and received feedback on previous years’ campaigns, which was taken into consideration when coming up with this year’s designs. Kaufman and McHaley worked with Lisa Currie and Susan Cushman from NU’s Health Promotion and Wellness program.

“They thought they were effective but you know, they wanted something less finger-wagging,” Kaufman said. “They wanted to feel like we were on their side and we were trying to help them rather than reprimand them.”

Kaufman and McHaley said they have received positive feedback from students and administration on campus. Some students agreed the posters were an enjoyable way to receive important reminders.

“They grab your attention and they’re effective, which is a great marketing strategy,” Weinberg junior Chloe Cole said.

Communication sophomore Juanita Andersen said she wasn’t sure she needed posters to tell her how to be responsible, having already experienced Dillo Day, but agreed they may be a helpful reminder to other students.

Kaufman said the team will reevaluate this year’s Smart Dillo campaign to see if the same strategy can be used next year or if the excitement surrounding the new posters will fade.

“It’s important for students to think about their day from start to finish,” Kaufman said. “(They need to consider) what are their priorities for the day and how they can enjoy themselves safely and wisely and while still being a good neighbor and good student and good community member.”

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