Last semester, The Alestle was chosen as one of nine college newspapers for Poynter’s College Media Project, and just last week, we hosted a panel to showcase the work and participation that went into the campaign.
The program encouraged and allowed our staff to create and execute a detailed campaign. While planning, we realized there were a lot of incidents on campus that needed to be brought to the community’s attention. We published our Hate Issue, where we cited racially-charged events and talked about their effects.
We realized there was a need for healthy and constructive conversations between faculty, staff and students on campus.
So we did something about it — we reached out to these groups to do just that.
Our What I Wish You Knew project aims to bridge gaps between diverse groups on campus. Our publication’s goal is to be the voice of students on campus, and we want to stay true to this.
By becoming more in tune with what the student body has to say about themselves and their experiences, we felt like the campaign aligned with our mission as a student publication.
We began by tabling once a week around campus with white boards and sticky notes, offering gift cards in exchange for openness. We asked anyone who stopped by to tell us what they wish people knew about them, an organization or club they were a part of or something they wanted to see changed on campus.
We received a ton of feedback, and almost every participant said they loved the idea. The goal wasn’t to get people to approve of our campaign but to start a conversation. If the campaign helped one person on campus think about changes they would like to see at the university or open up about personal experiences, we considered this a success.
In February, we hosted our annual Scrabble Night where we invited students, faculty and staff to play games, eat food and take photos in our photo booth. Those who attended learned about What I Wish You Knew, won prizes and had fun. We had a lot of submissions to our white boards and were able to talk to people about issues they deal with every day.
Last week, we had our final panel, where seven panelists, compiled of students, faculty and alumni, spoke about sexual assault, abuse, anxiety and fear of the unknown. They shared what they wished people would’ve known and ways to cope with those situations. Six more from the crowd shared their own testimonials after hearing the panelists share their stories.
It was moving — seeing people come together over hardship is both good and bad. On one side, unifying individuals on campus was part of our goal. On the other hand, it’s sad to hear from peers about the hardships they have been through.
It takes courage to participate in these conversations, and we at The Alestle are honored to be a small part of that. From here on out, we will be continuing the campaign because of all the participation and feedback we received this semester. We are excited to see what lies ahead for the campaign as well as the conversations we will continue to have.