Longley ’15 asks community to support #respectfuldifference campaign

As a self-designed major in film and media, I have examined the practical and personal implications of increased use of digital technologies in my courses, internships, jobs and interactions with people. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Yik Yak allow users to self-generate content, and the opinions and news shared can influence social and personal behaviors and perceptions.

After reading a post, a person or group(s) of people may feel inspired, agitated or shunned. Social media participates in a greater cultural trend of broadcasting one’s opinions and life events, and its virtual mechanisms for bullying behavior and/or discussion can extend into the classroom and elsewhere.

As a way to combat stereotypes and victimization presented on social media, Ripon College has begun its first #respectfuldifference Twitter campaign. Current and past students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to tweet why they support differences, within the Ripon community and elsewhere. A template is available via the office of marketing and communication. (Click here for template).

“I think it’s important for all Ripon students to feel like they have a place here, and this campaign is one way of everyone in the Ripon community affirming that they do,” says David William Scott, assistant professor of Religion, Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership. Scott is coordinator of Ripon’s #respectfuldifference campaign.

The campaign has garnered interest from professors and students alike. As such, individuals have posted pictures featuring the need for respect in education, discussion, identity and life. The photographs and messages assert the vital value and need for civility amongst divergent groups of people.

Understanding and appreciating these and other differences can lead to personal, social and institutional development and growth.

Both the posts’ content and people behind them have a variety of perspectives, and this dialogue must continue, online and off. As a liberal arts and sciences institution, Ripon College provides an atmosphere for such engagement through the discussion and instruction of multiple perspectives, and the #respectfuldifference campaign rejects aggressive behaviors that challenge and discourage learning and tolerance.

Ripon’s #respectfuldifference campaign is inspired by Kenyon College’s successful social media campaign to include voices, stories and opinions from students, faculty and staff. One such photo includes members of Quiz Bowl bantering, “no one knows all the answers.”

Kaylie Longley ’15
Saint Francis, Wisconsin

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