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Stories Campaign demonstrates that words can hurt

Signs with offensive quotes aimed at raising awareness about the pain caused by acts of intolerance were placed in three campus locations Monday as part of the Stories Campaign sponsored by students in The Movement, the Global Citizenship program, and other organizations.

“Words Can Hurt” is a key focus of the Stories Campaign, and seeks to demonstrate how offensive language can marginalize some students’ experiences at Lehigh and make them feel unwelcome and uncomfortable. The display of offensive quotes collected from Lehigh students will remain on the University Center lawn, in front of Fairchild-Martindale library and on the grass triangle between the Chi Psi and Kappa Alpha fraternities on the Hill through Wednesday.

The Movement is a student-led group working to promote diversity, acceptance, and understanding within the Lehigh community. Their goal is to create an environment where all students, faculty, and staff can feel welcome to express their individuality in a safe community atmosphere. They are partnering with the Global Citizenship program and other student groups for the Stories Campaign.

Much of the language on the signs is intentionally offensive. The goal is that individuals who are shocked by such language might learn a small measure of the pain felt by persons in the community who experience the language first-hand. That discomfort can motivate and support change, organizers say.

Plaques on the signs explain the context and source of the quotes, and students will distribute pamphlets describing the campaign. A Movement representative will be present to discuss the campaign during prime hours.

Stories and quotes will be collected from the Lehigh community, through drop boxes placed throughout campus, and via e-mail, from April 9—May 4. Stories can be submitted by e-mail at wordscanhurt@gmail.com. During phase two of this campaign, The Movement will publish the stories received.

The Stories Campaign is an example of how Lehigh students care enough to acknowledge, and more importantly, actively address a fundamental problem in our society. It is akin to several other student efforts intended to raise awareness of important campus and societal issues including the Take Back the Night March and T-shirt display now in the University Center, both geared to reduce the incidence of sexual violence on campus through awareness.

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2007

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