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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Students challenge stereotypes outside the classroom with BG4Unity

Stereotypes negatively affect many people and can even create barriers for students. Because of this, a professor of COMM 3030 had her students break out the Facebook page “BG4Unity” to combat stereotypes and online negativity.

Lisa Hanasono teaches the class, aiming to teach students about persuasive communication.

Hanasono brings this skill online to talk about stereotypes college students face every day. They take pictures of students holding up pieces of paper with stereotypes they wrote down, which also include ways they break the stereotypes.

This could be about student organizations, like fraternities and sororities, age, gender, race and culture, sexual identities, health, majors and mental illness.

BG4Unity rose on Facebook out of a rise of bullying and hate speech online.

“Our community was really moved in a negative way by some horrible messages that were being shared on social media. There were some racist things that were being said, there were some very hurtful messages that were being exchanged and there was a rise in a particular social platform that was called Yik Yak, where people could post things anonymously,” Hanasono said. “So, sometimes the very nature of the technologies were lending themselves to facilitate nasty communication… We realized there was a need to address this negativity that was being spread on social media.”

Hanasono and her class have two goals in mind for this project.

“We’re trying to help people use social media to challenge stereotypes and discrimination,” the professor said. “We’re trying to use social media for good, as opposed for hate. But we also tried to provide a sense of hope for people who may be targeted.”

Carillon Young, a junior communication major, is currently taking this class. She chose to challenge stereotypes about race and culture. She will be posting with her group next week.

“We went out and our goal was to persuade as many people as possible to take a BG4Unity snapshot. It was a great experience and I actually had a lot of fun going out and talking to students about the purpose and impact this campaign has on our community,” Young said.

Hanasono and the class that helped her develop BG4Unity wanted to localize this project to the University.

“What we decided to do was make BG4Unity a community-based project, so what that means is identifying a local issue in our BG area and trying to figure out how we can use our class concepts and our knowledge for good to address (hate speech and bullying online),” Hanasono said.

Drew Ashby-King, a University student, took this class in 2015, and gave some perspective on the class project.

“I think that the students that are a part of this course do make an impact. Each semester students are encouraging their friends to like and follow the BG4Unity pages; therefore, the messages and pictures are being shared to a larger, and larger portion of the BGSU and local community,” Ashby-King said. “I also think that having those positive messages online, and having folks share how they defy stereotype can truly help the individuals who see the messages, but they may never actually tell anyone how much it effected them.”

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