Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Shaq’s got ‘Bama’s back

Shaqs got Bamas back

Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal will be on campus tomorrow to help film a public service announcement about the dangers of binge drinking.

The PSA is in conjunction with LessThanUThink, an anti-binge drinking public relations campaign organized by UA students.

The 7-foot-1-inch former professional basketball player and media personality announced his visit on Twitter last November after a lengthy social media courtship by the LessThanUThink media campaign.

Justin Posey, director of government relations for the LTUT campaign, said having O’Neal on campus will help the University on two different levels.

“First, I think its going to bring attention to the LessThanUThink campaign,” Posey said, “and it will also bring attention to the national problem of college-age binge drinking. Additionally, I think it will bring attention to the University and to the outstanding communications school and public relations program that we have at Alabama.”

Mariah Fairweather, account executive for LTUT, said the group is excited to be working with O’Neal on the campaign.

“It really allows us to reach out to more people,” Fairweather said. “I think it’s really awesome that it’s Shaquille O’Neal because our generation watched him in his basketball career and in movies, and it’s nice that he’s coming to meet us and help us with our campaign.”

Misty Matthews, a communication specialist at the University, said that the work of the LessThanUThink campaign is important to the campus.

“There are a lot of college-aged kids who face this issue,” Matthews said.

Binge drinking is a national epidemic that has rocked college campuses particularly hard. A Center for Disease Control report states that about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is done so in a way that constitutes binge drinking. The CDC further reports that more than half of binge drinking is done by people in the 18- to 20-year-old age group.

Campus health leaders are recognizing the campaign for its effective nature. In a joint statement released on the Century Council website, Margaret Garner, the assistant dean for Health Education at Alabama and Delynne Wilcox of the University’s Health and Wellness department praised the campaign.

“The sometimes funny, somewhat dramatic posters and situations demonstrated throughout the campaign encouraged students to think about how they personally want to be seen and remembered, engaging them through the importance of social venues in their lives as students,” the statement said.

During his trip to Tuscaloosa, O’Neal is acting in his capacity as an ambassador for the Century Council, a national not-for-profit funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.

“We believe that collective action brings about lasting change,” the Century Council website reads. “We work with all members of the community — law enforcement, public officials, educators, parents and students — in our fight against drunk driving and underage drinking.”

“We expected good things from the University of Alabama when we gave the green light to the students behind the LessThanUThink campaign,” they said in a statement. “But once we started seeing their campaign in action, we were blown away. The students had a clear, convincing and novel message and made sure that everyone saw it.”

The UA LTUT movement is also spreading to other parts of the state. Alabama State, Auburn, UAB, Troy and the University of South Alabama have all started active chapters.

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