By Renee Poulin, Staff Writer
In taking a stand against cyberbullying, three UMF students recently created the #YakPositive Project, aimed to raise awareness about the specific cyberbullying that has become the norm on the popular social media app, Yik Yak.
Students Loretta Rice, Jennifer Morgan, and Gabby Severance brainstormed and created the #YakPostitive project for their Art and Social Change class, but had no idea the positive effects it would have on campus.
Because the social media app is geared towards college students, Rice believed placing the focus on Yik Yak would generate the most student attention and interest, even though cyberbullying is a topic that many do not tackle head on.
The #YakPositive Project consisted of taking negative Yaks from the social media app and plastering them across the wall. These Yaks consisted of phrases such as “You’re ugly”, “I hate you”, and “You look like a rat #sorrynotsorry”, to name a few. Students were involved by removing these negative, hurtful Yaks from the wall and replacing them with positive Yaks.
Junior Jacqueline Rose participated in the project and noted her support.“I thought it was very interesting,” said Rose. “I think the whole ‘write something positive and take a negative one is pretty cool because it’s interactive and caught my attention.”
Upon signing up for the Yik Yak app, a new user is required to agree to refrain from posting hurtful, crude, or upsetting remarks, yet this practice hardly stops the incoming flow of negative Yaks from being posted. To assist in eliminating the Yaks, the #YakPositive Project suggested reporting negative Yaks, as they will most likely be taken down immediately.
“We are just trying to get people to realize that the negative things they put on social media hurts other people,” said Rice. “So many people really enjoyed being able to physically put the positive in place of the negative themselves.”
Overall, the girls noted how well the student body reacted to the project and were pleased with participation. It was no doubt that the interactive piece drew much attention and encouraged students to physically take part in the project. More than this, Rice noted how “the project definitely made students think about cyberbullying and gave them something to talk about for the day.” While this was a positive first step, Rice, Morgan, and Severance pledge to continue to raise awareness of cyberbullying in all forms.
“Cyberbullying is found not only on social media, but everywhere,” said Morgan. “Everyone is always so negative and it’s important to put positivity in everyone’s lives.”