The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) in mid-March launched the “We Are” campaign in an effort to foster greater civility and respect among members of the University Park campus community.
In a year marked by racial tensions resulting from a student Web site, increased reports of sexual assault, and tragic student deaths, members of USG sought to create a culture of mutual respect for all community members.
Members of the campaign’s organizing committee used the famous “We Are…Penn State!” cheer as the foundation for their campaign. While this cheer is heard at many Penn State events, 2003–04 USG president Ian Rosenberger questioned whether people knew what it meant. With that in mind, the committee sought to define just “who we are” and “what we want to be.”
Under Rosenberger’s direction, the campaign opened in mid-March with a negative advertising phase—using posters and radio, television, and newspaper ads. The negative phase, which concluded in mid-April, was meant to shock the community and make its members think about their behavior. The messages asked people if they were bigots or cowards and if they were rude or ugly. The desired outcome is that self-reflection will promote change in behavior and beliefs.
The campaign’s second phase—the positive phase—began on April 12 and concluded on May 7. This positive, or inspirational, part of the campaign aimed to make community members better citizens. It included messages that empower campus members to become better people.
Organized and executed by USG, the “We Are” campaign received financial support from the Division of Student Affairs, the Penn State Alumni Association, and the University Park Allocation Committee.
USG hopes to expand the campaign to include additional Penn State campus locations. The committee also intends to incorporate more diverse representation from the University and State College communities in the planning process.
For more information about the campaign, please visit www.changingpsu.psu.edu.