HERO Campaign comes to campus

By Ellie Schuckman                                                                                                  News Editor

In an initiative to end driving while intoxicated, the College has recently partnered with the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers to promote safe and sober designated driving.

Campus Police cars display the HERO decal to promote safe driving.
Campus Police cars display the HERO decal to promote safe driving.

As a HERO Campaign College, the College is now dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and advocating the use of safe driving through campus-wide activities while raising money to help the HERO Campaign.

Beginning in 2000 after Egg Harbor Township, N.J., resident John Elliott, a graduate of the Naval Academy, was killed by a drunk driver, the College now joins nine other schools in the fight to prevent drunk driving. In high school, Elliott was a National Merit Scholar, president of his class and a member of his school’s football and tennis teams. At the Academy, he became a human education resource officer — students who are elected by their peers to counsel and mentor other members of their company — and was selected as the outstanding HERO in his class, according to the Hero Campaign website. In his honor, the HERO Campaign has since been established.

The federally-registered, non-profit organization also partners with “law enforcement agencies, schools and colleges, bars, taverns and restaurants, the United States Navy, professional sports teams, state divisions of highway safety and community chapters across the country,” according to the same site.

At the College, Joe Hadge, the assistant director of the Alcohol and Drug Education Program, fought to establish the campus as a campaign school. He included information on HERO in the online newsletter StudentHealth 101 and tabled at sporting and wellness events to distribute brochures, stickers, pins and T-shirts. He also had students take the HERO pledge to be a designated driver. Now, all Campus Police vehicles at the College display a HERO decal or magnet in support, according to Dana Landesman, a graduate intern working with Hadge.

“(There are) too many victims, too many innocent victims. Too much damage and pain caused by drunk driving and HERO empowers people to be designated drivers and say something if you see something,” Hadge said.

As a part of the campaign, HERO of the Year winners are awarded annually to students who display responsibility through designated driving. For 2015, junior elementary education and iStem double major Anne Goodwin and sophomore psychology major Grace Hawruk received the honor.

“From the campaign, students can learn how they can make an incredible difference,” Landesman said. “By taking the HERO pledge to be a designated driver for friends or loved ones, or being an upstander and keeping friends from driving drunk, every single student can make an impact.”

Students interested can take the official pledge to be a designated driver online at herocampaign.org.

Our students tell me they want to make lasting memories and de-stress, yet too much alcohol too fast can leave no memories and/or have lasting consequences,” Hadge said. “HERO provides a real New Jersey story with very reasonable options. Be a HERO. Be a designated driver. Be a leader who can see the cues and say something. Be Lion strong and smart.”