The Diversity Student Ambassadors and the Office of Diversity and Institutional Equity held a bullying awareness forum Oct. 25 in the Guillot Performance Center.
Make the UNA Campus more Respectful and Inclusive event featured international facilitator Pete Key and testimonies from University of North Alabama students on bullying awareness.
“I believe in interactions rather than lecturing and preaching to individuals, so I become the character and demonstrate what it is like to be hopeless,” Key said.
Key began his presentation dressed in a white prison uniform and trapped in a cell.
Key then acted out scenes of him fighting with his own thoughts. These thoughts were insecurities about fitting in on college campuses and worry over college cliques.
“Often at times students come to college thinking that they will feel different than they did in high school,” Key said. “Sometimes individuals get to college and think that it is a larger version of high school with cliques and can become distressed.”
Key added the white uniform and the prison cell represent how people can become trapped in their own thoughts and represents the impact that words have on people.
Key’s solution to this problem is for people to embrace other’s differences and accept all individuals.
“The purpose of the event is to increase awareness and embrace diversity and differences instead of using those things to pull us apart,” said Key. “Hopefully with this event we can begin to see the power of our words and how our words can help or hinder people.”
After Key’s presentation, students were invited to describe their own experiences with bullying on campus.
“October is bullying prevention month and we wanted to bring attention to the fact that bullying looks different on college campuses and in the work place,” said Joan Williams, director of ODIE. “We also wanted to give people a space and bring awareness to the idea that people who have been bullied can possibly become a bully.”
The event also promoted Unity Day. Unity Day is a national event that promotes positivity and anti-bullying. Participants were encouraged to wear orange, the color for bullying awareness and Unity Day.
“We really wanted to promote peace and positivity in this event and provide a safe space for people who have been affected by bullying,” Williams said.
The event began with a testimony from Trinda Owens, a senior at UNA and founder of the “I Stand” movement.
“‘I Stand’ is a movement that I started after witnessing the effects of bullying from the youth group I pastored,” Owens said. “ ‘I Stand’ encourages individuals to stand for right and stand against wrong and be a positive influence in other’s lives.”
Owens opened the event with her story about witnessing bullying in the lives of individuals and how bullying affects everyone.
“I think it is important for bullying awareness forums to be on college campuses,” said Davia Young, president of the Diversity Student Ambassadors. “Sometimes we can be bullied and sometimes we can be the bully and not even realize it, so I think it is important to be made aware of what bullying looks like on college campuses.”
Blankets that promoted anti-bullying and long sleeve T-shirts were given out as door prizes during the event.