National week gives new outlooks to students

Nicholas Birdsong

Don’t be a bully.

That was the central message last week as Washburn groups worked together to educate students and faculty about groups who often find themselves the subject of harassment due to gender, race or sexuality. No Name Calling Week sought to stem bullying by educating students about diverse groups of people.

Multiple organizations collaborated to host the week’s events. Sponsors included OPEN, the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life, Diversity Initiatives, the Multicultural Affairs office, Campus Activities Board, the Social Justice League, the Sociology and Anthropology Club, the Washburn School of Business, and the Washburn Student Governing Association, among other organizations. Some of the groups sponsored specific events; others worked to help put the entire week together. Resa Boydston, a non-traditional Washburn student, coordinated efforts under the banner of No Name Calling Week.

“It was just amazing how all these groups came together,” said Boydston. “They were so anxious and eager to pick up a topic that creates more awareness and to get the message out to students.”

Pledges were made available for students and faculty to sign as a part of the week. Those who signed were promising to not bully others, interfere in cases of bullying and to make an effort to prevent name-calling when possible. In total, 215 students and faculty signed the pledge.

This was the first year of No Name Calling Week at Washburn. Boydston hopes that it will continue in the future.

“My hope is that some great student, some great group takes this on next year and builds from it,” said Boydston.

Monday’s event kicked off the week with a showing of the film “Precious.” The movie tells the story of a black, overweight and poverty-stricken young woman who is the victim of abuse and bullying.

Save Zone training was provided on Tuesday. Students and faculty were invited to learn how to become an ally for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer [LGBTQ]  individuals, who are often the target of bullying.

Faisal Alam, an international figure on LGBTQ issues, was the keynote speaker featured on Wednesday. Alam focused his speech dispelling myths and phobias of LGBTQ and Muslim individuals.

Alternative rock band Starlume performed on Thursday. The show served as a way to appeal to a different demographic of students who may not have heard of No Name Calling Week elsewhere.

The week came to an end with Cookies, Cocoa and Conversation. Washburn professor Bill Roach was honored for his work for the LGBTQ community. There was also a period of informal conversation among the attendees.

“This whole week has been really different,” said Alex Dinkel, a Washburn student who attended all of the week’s events. “After hearing people talk about it makes you see that if you think you have it hard, try living a completely different lifestyle. I think I have a lot more respect for the [LGBTQ] people around here.”

The event coincides with a national observance of the same name, although the two anti-bullying campaigns are not formally connected. The national No Name Calling Week is primarily aimed at K-12 students.