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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Buttons, ribbons and shirts (oh my!)

As I was walking home yesterday afternoon, I ran into a small crowd of students and administrators wearing black shirts that said "gay? fine by me." My first thought was that I hadn't heard about any rally going on (similar to when I didn't hear about the petting zoo at the amphitheatre...thanks for the invite, Second Year Class Council!). Then I started thinking about awareness campaigns I've seen here at the University since I got here last summer. The black ribbons and door hangers given out in response to racially motivated incidents in September are most prominent in my mind.

My college years were the height of the wearing a ribbon practice. It seemed as though every cause had its color. As a student back then, I wore anything that was handed to me. Breast Cancer awareness? Can't argue with that. Peace in Eastern Europe? Pin me! Save the Madagascan Aye-Aye? Sure, he's a funky little creature!

Our students have gotten even more creative with their campaigns. The "merch" they make rivals the items for sale in the bookstore. Instead of picking up a 99 cent roll of ribbon at the craft shop, our students are designing logos and contracting vendors to mass produce promotional give aways.

I guess these gimmicks rope in more people than a ribbon would, but do they foster conversation about their cause? Because of the cost involved, they can't possibly canvas the entire campus with their freebies. So, because I didn't get my black shirt yesterday, am I seen as intolerant? If that's the case, bring back the ribbons!