The Free Speech Center

First Amendment News and Insights from MTSU

Xavier University

1 for All Grant – Completed Project

Submitted by: Leslie Rasmussen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Xavier University

April 26, 2021

Overview

This semester five teams in my PR Campaigns course (senior capstone) each developed a weeklong campaign to raise awareness of the five freedoms under the First Amendment. Each team had one freedom to focus on, and the grant was divided among the groups. In Appendix 1 you will find the complete campaign details. Students evaluated their campaigns and will present their work to their classmates, Communication Department faculty, and two junior-level PR courses.

Throughout the week, students engaged in a number of activities and reached students across campus. A sampling of tools and events created include: stickers, flyers, educational material, Kahoot/trivia game, Jeopardy-style game, social media content, gift bags, free speech beach ball on the quad, campus petition, and other promotional material.  

Campaign Implementation & Reach

Just before the campaigns launched, our campus experienced two incidents. Xavier is a Catholic Jesuit university a chapel on campus. A sign stating, “Racism is a Sin. Black Lives Matter.” was destroyed and stickers promoting a white supremist group were scattered around campus. Several weeks went by and the same thing happened again, about one week prior to the campaign launch. Two groups took the opportunity to incorporate the incidents into their creative messaging and connect with our student community. For example, the Freedom of Petition group put forth a petition for students to sign that requested more security cameras be placed around the chapel. This group also paid to promote messaging on social media to target current Xavier students, and reached 1,800 accounts, and an additional 3,720 accounts were reached by promoting their educational posts. The Free Speech group took the opportunity to promote free speech and distinguish it from hate speech.  This group also promoted content on social media and was able to hold (all aligned with COVID restrictions and gathering as mandated in Ohio) a Jeopardy-style event at an off-campus location (Dana’s Gardens) and had over 40 people in attendance, many of whom anecdotally shared that they learned of the event from social media. The group also had a free speech beach ball event in the quad that reached approximately 300 students and some faculty. People wrote items considered free speech, no hate speech, on the beach ball, which garnered attention.

The Freedom of Assembly team lead a grassroots effort to target key student clubs on campus to share their educational content, reach students, and encourage them to participate in a Twitter chat. Students learned what the freedom to assemble means. The team connected with Xavier Athletic Student Leaders, PRSSA, X-Change, and Lambda Pi Eta. The team also held a virtual Jeopardy event and had seven full teams competing for Amazon gift cards. 

The Freedom of the Press team had perhaps the most success with regard to reach. Through their social media outreach targeted at our student population, they received nearly 500 engagements and over 6000 impressions. The students also held a Zoom Kahoot event that also included a brief educational presentation of the Freedom of the Press. The team also held a tabling event in our quad and passed out educational infographics, Kahoot event information, and several goodie items.

The Freedom of Religion team struggled, likely because they relied heavily on social media. However, they did reach about 547 profiles, many of whom were Xavier students. Their in-person event had low attendance.

Enhancing Visibility and Understanding

Overall, this was an incredibly learning opportunity for students in the course and for our campus. Perhaps one of Xavier’s strengths is its size and Jesuit history. The campus has approximately 7,000 students, and many are primed by the university motto: All for One, One for All. The campaign activities raised visibility of the five freedoms and engaged with many students. It was so well aligned with our campus values that students were very curious to learn about the freedoms, and especially how that translated to a private university campus.

Appendix 1: Capstone/Campaign Project Details

THE CAPSTONE PROJECT

Client: The First Amendment

You will implement your project on our campus, and then evaluate for success. In typical semesters, students do not implement or evaluate their campaigns. This semester, though, why not up the ante and give you something significant to add to your resume and portfolio. You will also have a *real* budget to work with. 

Students will work in teams to develop, execute, and evaluate a campaign. You will not only create a campaign plan, but you will actually implement it. Teams will have the latitude to develop a campaign that engages their interests and develops their skills in areas including, but not limited to, strategic planning, social media, advertising, media relations, audience research and analysis, graphic design, project management, budgeting, and event planning. You will create and implement a campaign, and later present case study over it. The campaign implementation will last one week. 

Goal: Raise awareness of the five freedoms of the First Amendment and engage Xavier University students

Target Audience: Xavier University students (you may segment the audience)

CAMPAIGN COMPONENTS (use this as a checklist)

Title page

Executive summary

Research

Target audiences

Messaging

Big idea

Goal

Challenges & opportunities

Objectives

Strategies

Tactics

Budget

Calendar

Post-campaign components

Campaign hurdles

Evaluation

Works cited

Appendix

What are the five freedoms of The First Amendment? The five freedoms it protects: speechreligionpressassembly, and the right to petition the government. Together, these five guaranteed freedoms make the people of the United States of America the freest in the world.

 

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