Civic Life Speech Intermediate Draft

Bleed Blue. These words are often associated with supporting Penn State Athletics. This simple phrase convinces you to purchase a brand new Penn State Ice Hockey jersey to wear in support of both the men’s and women’s teams at the new Pegula Ice Arena this upcoming ice hockey season. Bleeding Blue is the reason you went out and bought the new freshman quarterback’s jersey because you thought he was a hunk. It is the reason you purchased season football tickets to support the Nittany Lions in Beaver Stadium various Saturdays throughout the fall. These two simple words are littered on posters throughout campus. You can find them outside of classrooms, in the Hub, and even in your dorms calling you to partake in one of the most common acts of civic engagement at Penn State. Surprisingly, these words do not call you to support Penn State athletics or academics, they call you to donate blood to help combat the national shortage of blood.

This poster, accompanied with the various signs placed in the ground around campus do very little to call a Penn State student to donate blood with the intentions of saving another persons life. From a distance, this poster is plain and simple. It hardly stands out in a collection of other posters, especially compared to the neon colors of the IM sports posters or posters advertising one of the thousand clubs at Penn State. The color red, often associated with blood and the Red Cross, barely stands out. The prominent features that combat the white background of this poster are the words “bleed blue” and the picture of a slightly overweight man on the field at Beaver Stadium at a Penn State football game.  These characteristics make it clear the target audience of this poster is current Penn State students. These posters call you, as students, to donate blood, the liquid that keeps you alive, just for a slim chance of winning a dream Penn State football package. They do very little to say why donating blood is a good civic duty or that the reason the Red Cross wants your blood is to combat a national shortage and that your blood will save lives.

As unsuccessful as this poster seems at attracting potential donors, it is very successful at calling Penn State students to perform the quintessential of all civic duties. Following Schudsen’s first principle, these posters connect Penn State football, a regular activity of Penn State students, and donating blood, the target civic duty. They allow each activity to be performed simultaneously, so on top of supporting Penn State athletics, the donor is also creating a feeling of self worth because they helped combat the national shortage of blood. This feeling helps to create a bond between all Penn State students who also donated blood. The bond formed creates a deeper sense of community at the University. It brings these people together, many of whom would have no connection otherwise and unites them with a common feeling of doing good and supporting the nation as a whole. It also forges an unbreakable bond with the eventual receiver of your blood, which is a small community often overlooked by these posters. By donating blood, you are not just joining a community of your peers, you are also providing the means for another life to be saved. You literally become a part of the person who received your blood.

On the surface, these posters might make it seem like the American Red Cross is bribing students into donating blood. In a way, they are, however this tactic is very successful in its call to civic duty. It combines daily life with a necessary civic duty. Without this, the poster would not be able to attract the attention of students as well, and therefore would have failed in its attempt to combat the national blood shortage.

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