moving the needle

Moving the “Health and Safety” Needle

Lori Hart, PhD
Lori Hart, PhD
Director of Educational Initiatives

In my world of work with clients and students, I have recently found myself in conversations and presentations often saying it’s time to “move the needle.” This is a common phrase used to generate a reaction. At Microsoft, the term is actually used in a more general sense of providing a perceptible improvement. The reality is we have to start somewhere. Until we make a movement, we cannot get traction. With traction, we can get energy and people moving toward fixing a problem.

Let me explain with a quick example. When I was growing up, cars had speedometers that were analog. I remember when I got my first speeding ticket in high school, my father didn’t just pay it. He drove me to the courthouse, and I went in front of the judge. I pled guilty and did 20 hours of community service at the Walker County Courthouse. Needless to say, my father taught me a lot about accountability. Once I was allowed back in my car a few weeks later, my dad had placed a small red piece of tape on the odometer. It was a visual reminder of the law and my understanding of the expectation of my father. In hindsight (and with much more wisdom now), I can understand it was also a reminder for my safety.

Rules are put in place for safety. It’s hard to understand that sometimes, especially for students with their ever-developing brains.

Throughout 2017-2018, the 66 organizations of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) have been trying to move the needle through its Health & Safety Initiatives. In my role with Holmes Murphy, I had the privilege this fall to participate with several thought leaders to create the “Alcohol and Drug Guidelines.” These guidelines were voted on unanimously on November 29 at the NIC meeting of the members. Because of this vote, NIC member organizations will evaluate their current documents to ensure they’re consistent. Upon first glance, it’s an updated version of “FIPG”, which provided the first fraternity/sorority industry standard guidelines in 1987. However, after 16 drafts, I will tell you this is a new and improved baseline and helps us move the needle in language that’s simple and relatable to students and volunteers.

We won’t move the needle if the 66 organizations simply adopt or vote in Alcohol and Drug Guidelines into their framework. It will take more work — much more work. It’s about understanding how we philosophically and developmentally approach students. It’s about providing really good resources to help students. It’s about education and training, which costs significant time and money. And, finally, it’s about a fair and equitable enforcement strategy. All of this takes work, time, and resources.

The Holmes Murphy team is here and ready to help our clients move the needle in 2019!

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