Students receive cash from posters

By Karen Craven

Although the chances are as close to winning the Lotto, you could be the next to win a “fin.”

It pays to be aware. University Health Enhancement Services distributed informational posters about sex and alcohol to 7,200 students this semester. And, according to health enhancement, any student who hangs their informational poster on a residence hall wall will receive $5.

The posters were dispersed through the ‘Get Acquainted Boxes’ that residence hall residents received in the beginning of the semester. They came along with the note, “We will pay you $5 if this poster is on your wall when our student rep knocks on your door. Offer valid during the ‘93/’94 school year.”

Tommy Reyes, a freshman theatre arts major, recently won the $5 prize. He said, “There was an ugly mark on my wall, so I posted it to cover the space.”

Reyes was later told by his resident adviser about the money. Even after he won, he kept the poster up. Reyes said he assumed the poster’s statistics were true and found no reason to take it down.

The poster addresses student health at NIU. It states, “Most students (65 percent) drink 5 or fewer drinks when they ‘party.’ Over half (54 percent always/usually) use condoms for protection during intercourse and almost half (41 percent) of all NIU students did not have sex in the last 30 days.”

Other subjects covered are nutrition, the limits for men and women when consuming alcohol and how to have safe sex. There is also a list of emergency numbers to call to assist students who may need help with alcohol, rape, or dieting.

University Health Services Coordinator Michael Haines said, “They know it’s just like WMAQ—‘It’s going to make me rich.'”

However, only 15 students have won thus far. Haines said, “Students know that 1,000 people aren’t going to win.”

Junior OMIS major Thom Brooks also won, but expressed some doubt in the statistics. Brooks said, “I thought it was pretty objective, but (the facts) don’t really apply to my friends.” He said he thought the safe drinking chart did not apply to him as well.

Brooks thought the numbers were understated, “the condoms especially.”

Brooks said, “You know what they say, no glove, no love. The numbers should be more directed towards women because women are in control of it.”

Haines defended the numbers saying they are representative of the undergraduates at NIU. They are based on surveys distributed to 4,598 students in general education classes from 1988 through 1993.

However, a fact sheet that explains health enhancement’s efforts to change misperceptions since 1988, stated most of the students surveyed are under 21. The drinking age in DeKalb is 21, so legally speaking, the numbers obtained through the minors surveyed should be low. Also, the numbers exclude upperclassmen who have usually completed their general education requirements by the time they reach 21 and legally would drink more than minors.

Haines said, “The idea is not to give a lot of money away, but to get people aware.” He said the fliers, posters and ads in The Northern Star raise students awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol abuse and other health related topics.

“If the lead story on the Chicago TV news is about a rape, murder or fire, people will believe that the city is on fire, filled with rapists and murderers,” Haines said. “Students come to college believing that the norm is to have sex and get drunk, but the surveys prove otherwise.”

The surveys, which provide the information for the free money posters, have questions that address students’ beliefs and actions. Students believe that 40 percent of students are having sex, but when they answered for themselves only 4 percent actually were.

“College students think they are a lot more unhealthy than they actually are,” Haines said.

“They think it’s okay to be unhealthy. Bad behavior is the norm. However, binge drinking is not the norm on the college campus,” he said. “Our job is to keep students from getting ill. By normalizing it, we put pressure on them to keep them healthy.”