My Crusade To Turn UC Red

Texting and Driving

The rising number of fatalities resulting from distracted driving led me to start the Turn UC Red campaign.
(Photo by frankieleon, Flickr)

In April 2010, right before I graduated from college, I learned an important lesson about what it takes to make a difference in the world. That was the month I started the Turn UC Red™ campaign at the University of Cincinnati in an effort to get students to put an end to distracted driving. At the time, Oprah Winfrey had already her viewers to sign a No Phone Zone pledge, so I took that idea and ran with it. 

Turn UC Red blog

The Turn UC Red blog offered the University of Cincinnati community a place to learn about the dangers of distracted driving, confirm their support of the movement and a online hub to get in touch with others who wanted to make a difference.
(Photo by Jathan Fink, Jadeworks Entertainment)

I began my personal crusade to raise awareness about the issue by starting the Turn UC Red™ blog and speaking to my fellow students, teachers, and anyone else who would listen about the issue. I showed videos and charts, explaining how nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 lose their lives each year because they are talking, texting and e-mailing behind the wheel.

The president of the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at the time, I was able to get the organization and its members behind me in spreading the word. The Student Activities and Leadership Development council, as well as the honors and journalism programs on campus sponsored us. Then student journalists Taylor Dungjen and German Lopez at the News Record, UC’s independent student paper, featured two articles about me and our new crusade, and soon other student groups began inviting me to speak at their meetings.

The word continued to spread as we partnered with groups like Alpha Lambda Delta, the Student Activities Board, Undergraduate Student Government and the campus’s new magazine, Verge Magazine. By year’s end, nearly 80 students and professors had signed the pledge to put an end to distracted driving, an accomplishment I am still proud of today.

I will probably never discover the total impact the Turn UC Red™ campaign may have had, but I do know that by using my platform as a campus leader and speaking up, I helped raise the collective conscience of the university population when it came to the perils of distracted driving, and therein lie the power of my crusade. I discovered that a solitary voice can have as much power as we need it to have, and that we make a difference in the lives of others when we marry passion, courage, and tenacity to a cause that is bigger than we are on our own.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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