How Do You Change 200-Year-Old Greek Life Traditions?
Some call it a rite of passage, some call it “brotherhood” or “sisterhood.” Because of a dangerous tradition, more than 200 university students have died from hazing-related accidents in America since 1838—with 40 deaths between 2007 and 2017 alone. In 2014, West Virginia University lost one of their own. 18-year-old Nolan Burch died after a fraternity pledging event went wrong, when he passed out with a blood-alcohol level nearly 6x the legal limit. Nolan was unconscious for an hour before his fraternity brothers took his condition seriously and called for medical help, but it was too late. Understanding the severity of Nolan’s death, West Virginia University made a commitment to ensure hazing deaths do not happen again to any of their students.
WVU decided to build an anti-hazing campaign to commemorate the five-year mark of Nolan’s passing in 2019, and reached out to Anyone™ and City Drive Entertainment Group. Partnering with City Drive’s Daniel Catullo and Carl Rosenberg, Anyone™ created the campaign strategy, crafting messaging and designing creative assets. The strategy was then used to create a feature-length documentary to communicate Nolan’s story. Campaign assets would be rolled out to students via WVU’s Safety & Wellness Department along with the Nolan Michael Burch Foundation—a non-profit established by Nolan’s parents, Kim and TJ Burch, dedicated to empowering young adults to recognize and prevent hazing. Through our work with WVU, City Drive, Sugar Studios LA and the NMB Foundation, the anti-hazing campaign grew into a broader mission of asking the student body to bear responsibility for protecting each other, leading the way for universities to combat hazing and other unsafe behaviors.
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