The University of Maine at Presque Isle participated in a global social media campaign focused on anti-bullying and "leaving judgment behind," which culminated in a day-long schedule of events on Wednesday, Feb. 29 in the Campus Center.
Everyone Matters is a worldwide campaign headed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; its message: "Don't Judge. Respect Everyone's Differences." Everyone Matters is a project of the What's Your Issue Foundation, which for the past six years has run the Film Your Issue initiative, with partners like Microsoft, YouTube, Sony, Google, MySpace, AOL, Yahoo!, the United Nations, USA TODAY, Associated Press, American Red Cross, The Walt Disney Company, and Universal Studios.
The Everyone Matters campaign encouraged people around the world to create and upload short videos focused on diversity and not judging others. The six-month campaign led up to Everyone Matters Day on Feb. 29, which was celebrated with hundreds of local and online events and the fulfillment of a "24-Hour Challenge" by a targeted 100,000-plus participants to "Not Judge in Thought or Action" for a whole day.
"The campaign offers colleges and universities the ability to tailor their individual Everyone Matters events to their own campus culture," Jannie Durr, Assistant Director of Residence Life, said. "Here, the project was truly student-driven and the creativity for our tree display, video segments, and the discussion event came from them. As a member of the Diversity Committee, we really embraced this campaign because it sought broad goals for inclusivity without apology across different lines of group membership—whatever their race, socioeconomic status, gender, age, sexual orientation, ability, worldview, age, or ethnicity."
Several groups on campus worked together to make UMPI's Everyone Matters event happen, including the Department of Residence Life, Student Activities, the Resident Assistants, Student Organization of Social Workers [SOSW], Gay-Straight Alliance [GSA], and the Diversity Committee.
The effort began with a series of "Everyone Matters" videos created by UMPI Resident Assistants encouraging the UMPI community to leave judgment behind and embrace the idea that everyone matters. Those who participated in the videos included UMPI RA's Carly Langley, Liz Bousquet, Chris Moore, Stephanie Pemberton, Courtney Cray, Matt Nadeau, Cassie Green, Cooper Plaisted and Josh Conroy. To view these impactful videos, visit http://www.youtube.com/UMPIEveryoneMatters.
"Once the videos when live on the internet, I was surprised by the amount of responses from the UMPI community that filled my e-mail box regarding how important they found this campaign and more often than not, they included their own personal story of being judged," Durr said. "That really hit it home with me about how impactful this campaign is for even our small community and how the larger global campaign can make a difference."
As another component of UMPI's Everyone Matters effort, beginning Feb. 15, students were encouraged to stop by the Student Activities Office or see their RA's and share their experiences about times they felt judged or when they judged someone else. Students had the opportunity to write one or two words on leaf-shaped paper indicating their commitment to "leave judgment behind."
On Everyone Matters Day at UMPI, those leaves formed a paper tree which was on display all day on the second floor of the Campus Center, serving as a visual reminder of what the campus was celebrating. There was an information table outside of Kelley Commons sponsored by SOSW and the GSA, where teal ribbons were available for people to wear in support of the day. Campus community members also were encouraged to wear white (representing peace) or teal (the anti-bullying color) on Feb. 29 to support the campaign.
At 1 p.m. in Campus Center Room 118, a special Everyone Matters panel presentation was held. This engaging talk regarding the campaign included personal stories from three dynamic guest speakers who shared their experiences and offered creative ideas for encouraging a community where everyone matters. Speakers included two UMPI representatives – Bonnie DeVaney and Dr. Jacqui Lowman – as well as a speaker from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network – Douglas Kimmel, MD.
Event organizers are hoping all of these activities will have a lasting impact on the campus and community.
"It's really important for colleges and universities to groom responsible citizens," Durr said during the Everyone Matters Day events at UMPI. "Hopefully people will take a nugget of truth from today and incorporate that into a future intervention."
UMPI was among a myriad of organizations that participated in the Everyone Matters campaign and worked together to foster inclusion and reduce intolerance, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities, MTV, The Special Olympics, NAACP, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, American Association of People with Disabilities, Human Rights Campaign, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Hispanic Media Coalition, GLAAD, Asian American Justice Center, NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, ACPA-College Student Educators International, Social Vibe, and others. For more information about the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/everyonematters.