Recently, senior Ashton Johnson introduced the hashtag #DearDepauw on Twitter and it has since been picked up by other students and utilized on Facebook and YikYak.
The hashtag got started after Johnson attended an Association for African American Students, event where a professor spoke about how social movements of the 60s began with college students. The professor mentioned using social media as outlet to continue discussions from last semester.
Johnson began using the hashtag on her own personal Twitter accound on Nov. 6 and two other students used the hashtag that same evening. Then students began using the hashtag on Facebook a few days later.
“Since I was the one to create this trend, I thought I might as well fully promote it so everyone has an understanding of what the hashtag meant when I created it,” said Johnson.
Here is the direct quote from one of Johnson’s Facebook statuses about the purpose of the hashtag:
"This is not a campaign to attack any person, group of people, etc. This is to foster engagement and dialogue about issues and concerns within the system and institution itself that need to be challenged and addressed. If people choose to engage through telling personal narratives, it is their choice. If people choose to engage by asking thought-provoking questions, it is their choice. If people choose to engage by remaining silent and utilizing their work within and outside the classroom, it is their choice. As long as you are actively engaging and participating in this dialogue in order to mobilize action, you are doing the work of social change and justice."
Students have been using it for about two weeks now and it has addressed different issues that have been witnessed on campus.
“I believe that the main message of DearDepauw is to bring awareness of some of the things that occur on this campus as well as for people to share their views,” said junior Kya Simmons, an active user of the hashtag. “The sentiments can be good or bad, but the point is to get the word out and for people to share their experiences.”
Many students use it daily and others have just used it once or twice to get their opinion on the web where anyone can read it.
“The audience that is intended is anyone who is willing to listen, but mainly those who have the power for institutional change are targeted because some of the issues that have arisen from using the hashtag affect being a student on DePauw's campus every day,” said Simmons.
Although the hashtag has just begun to make its way across different social media accounts students are excited about it.
“I use [the hashtag] DearDePauw as a means of communicating with friends about different issues with students at DePauw especially in the community of people of color,” said Senior Janel Corney.
Corney agrees with Simmons that the hashtag was implemented to distribute awareness on campus.
“I wanted to shed light on events, incidents, and occurrences that are never talked about except in the privacy of houses, dorms,and rooms,” said Johnson. “I was frustrated, angry and tired of hearing my friends and people that I know tell me countless stories of injustices both inside and outside the classroom.”