Katie Mackay is the Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer for the SU Exec at the University of Nottingham. Week One represents one of the busiest times of her year as she is responsible, amongst many other things, for Easy Tiger, the campaign promoting safe sex and alcohol awareness that we have all seen on many a night out. We spoke to her at the beginning of Week One to get the thoughts of the SU Exec about Easy Tiger.
Firstly and very simply, why is Easy Tiger a Tiger?
There isn’t a special reason why the campaign has a tiger representing it, but the reasons for such a character are that it is colourful, individual, instantly recognisable and fluffy! The tiger is a vital point of visible branding for the campaign as he stands out to students during the hectic period of Week One, and is also something that people want to hug, or take a picture with, which is great exposure too!
As the SU Exec member in charge of Easy Tiger, what do YOU think Easy Tiger is all about?
Easy Tiger is a campaign set up by the SU to encourage Safe Sex and alcohol awareness. It was set up around the turn of the millennium after shocking figures of increased abortion and STI rates emerged. Easy Tiger isn’t trying to stop people having a good time – quite the opposite. We promote safe sex in order for students to avoid the devastating issues of STIs and unplanned pregnancy by handing out condoms, and promote alcohol awareness to promote moderation and sensibility in drinking, and to try and prevent drink spiking with the handing out of spikeys. Of course, anyone can get a sticker, flyer or just have a chat!
Do you think that Easy Tiger has had a marked effect on the Student Body?
Yes, absolutely. The effect we have is instantly recognisable, as we always use the visual awareness of Easy Tiger to promote the ideals of the campaign, so students are always getting the message. Also, a Week One survey is being carried out this year to determine things such as this, so we have our fingers crossed that Easy Tiger will have had a really positive effect with students!
What would you improve about Easy Tiger?
Well, for starters, I’d make the suit more comfortable! Aside from being boiling hot inside a nightclub, you can barely see out of it! I’d also like to maintain the presence of the campaign at the same level for the entire year, and along with that, generate more flyers, stickers, t-shirts and overall awareness of the message. We have been working really hard to get nightclubs and bars in Nottingham to promote the message by wearing t-shirts behind the bar, which is great, and something we’d really like to progress with. Plus, many clubs have agreed to have STI testing stands in the building, which is an interesting step forward.
Do you have any personal Easy Tiger memories?
Aside from being incredibly hot and unable to see who’s pushing/hugging you? Of course, when you’re on the nights out, you can have loads of fun with your co-reps trying to see who can get the most stickers out, and even have competitions to see who can hand out the most condoms! On a more personal note, I was at the Freshers’ Final Party when Vernon Kay was DJing, he saw my face all painted like a tiger, and the rest as they say, is history. He looked at me and smiled. Oh yes.
Are there any other things that you would like to fall under the Easy Tiger banner?
I think that right now, we don’t want to confuse the message of Easy Tiger. We have two, very clear messages of Alcohol Awareness and Safe Sex, and they are associated with this campaign. However, I’d love to set up a new campaign if we had the resources, that offered counselling services, and also one that focused on the subject of drugs awareness. They would be very different so as not to clash with Easy Tiger, but still very important messages to get out there.
Why is it important for people to listen to Easy Tiger?
It’s a fun idea with a serious message. We are there in principle to uphold the laws of the SU, but we choose to do it in such a way that students respond positively and find it accessible. We are fellow students, and it is much easier to interact with one of your peers that perhaps you might think. We aren’t just there to stick a condom in your hand too. We really like talking to people on nights out, and listening as well!
Do you run all year?
The figures I mentioned earlier stemmed from times like Week One, so the bulk of the campaign’s focus is on Week One. We would love to keep it up all year, and you might just see Easy Tiger popping up at some hall events as the year goes on!
How easy is it for people to find Easy Tiger or someone to talk to?
During Week One, it’s really great that all first year students have their Week One reps. They are picked because they are kind and compassionate people, as well as being really fun too! In addition, your JCR Welfare Reps are at halls all year, and can always be spoken to. Easy Tiger is present at all Week One club nights, some hall dinners and lots of the alternative nights that Week One offers such as Quizzes, and there is always an Easy Tiger Rep to talk to in those situations.
Can anyone volunteer for Easy Tiger?
Yes. Come down to the Student Volunteers Centre in the Portland Building, or join the Easy Tiger 2010 group on Facebook. If you want to speak to me directly, e-mail me at [email protected]