By Le Tran
On Monday, April 9, students in Isenberg School of Management Marketing 498B Advertising Practicum launched an event at the center of their campaign called “(un)labeled: Beyond the Label” to fight stereotypes and underlying biases.
The “cubicle” event where members of the UMass community received a list of questions to ask each other. The questions were intended inspire strangers to get to know each other in a shorter period of time than they would normally. After completing the questionnaire, people began conversations about themselves and seeing if there were any underlying biases that arised.
Some of the questions included major, hometown, favorite movie genre, living on/off campus and favorite stress relief activity.
As people waited for their turn in the cubicle, participants were able to fill out sticky-notes with statements of “I am… but I’m not”. This was to negate any stereotypes that are associated with participants. In the end, participants signed a pledge to stop stereotyping.
The class project, which was created in response to the increase in bias-related incidents on college campuses, is also part of an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) contest called “ADL: Innovate Against Hate.” UMass Amherst is one of 20 U.S. colleges to compete. As part of the contest, each team gets $1,000, plus $500 in Facebook ad credits, to create its campaign. At the end of the semester, members from the top three teams selected by the ADL will be invited to present their campaigns in front of a jury panel, an audience and industry leaders on June 12 in Washington, D.C.
This event and project supports the Hate Has No Home at UMass campaign, as well as Building Bridges, an initiative designed to foster new connections among UMass Amherst community members who come from greatly varied backgrounds and hold differing perspectives.
Le Tran is a first-year student majoring in geography. He is working in the Office of News and Media Relations as a diversity social media assistant during the spring 2018 semester.