It's Time To Meet the UMass Students Going Beyond Labels

It's Time To Meet the UMass Students Going Beyond Labels

What's it like to live a life free of labels?
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Stereotypes exist. Women are inherently weaker than men. Asians are good at maths and sciences. Gays are flamboyant and promiscuous. There was a time when society actively acknowledged those stereotypes, creating exclusion laws and protecting people’s rights because of who they were.

But it has progressed, in a way -- people are people, regardless of their race, gender, orientation or any categorical label. Most people no longer consciously single others out derogatorily because of who they are.

But what about subconsciously? Might you avoid starting up a conversation with someone because of the groups they associate with? Would you automatically judge someone because their appearance is similar to a group you don’t particularly like?

You may, and the judgments you make may hurt someone without you meaning to. They’re not quite through a fault of your own -- they’re known as unconscious stereotypes, ones that you might not actively use to classify people, but occur anyways.

There are plenty of campaigns on campus out to fight against active stereotypes, but there aren’t any dedicated to rooting out and reflecting on unconscious ones. This is where the campaign (un)labeled comes in.

Conceived by a group of students in an advertising practicum, the campaign is dedicated to helping people realize that subconscious stereotypes still exist and that it’s not too late to recognize and reflect on them. Originally, the challenge stemmed from the Anti-Defamation-League, which put out a call to college campuses to create a campaign that was able to reach as many students as possible.

“We [looked] at hate groups that were around us and [looked at] people we could try to reach by doing this campaign,” says Pascale Froehlich, a member of the campaign. “We thought about UMass, and how UMass generally considers itself pretty liberal.” Liberalism and non-hatefulness, however, don’t quite seem to go hand-in-hand.

“People say ‘I’m not hateful’ and they don’t realize they are hateful,” she explains. “We’re not saying you’re hateful for having unconscious stereotypes, we’re saying you might not know that you have them, and realizing you have them and making a change is more productive than just saying ‘I’m not hateful’.”

It’s tempting to ask what sets the (un)labeled campaign apart from all of the other groups on campus: after all, they all strive towards somewhat of a similar goal.

“There are a lot of great support groups on campus,” Pascale acknowledges. “We don’t want to copy another group because it’s not going to be effective when they already have such a presence on campus. We stand out because there isn’t a group that focuses on unconscious stereotypes, and because [we are] a group that can bring other groups together.”

Another thing that sets them apart is their intention to target as many people on campus as they can. “I don’t think there’s a group yet that necessarily targets everyone on campus,” she says. “We wanted to target as many people on campus as we could, and we thought that targeting unconscious stereotypes was the best way to do that.”

As a social media campaign, (un)labeled puts a lot of emphasis on the amount of effort that it takes to participate. “People don’t necessarily have to do much,” Pascale says. “They just have to reflect and realize that even though they consider themselves as liberal doesn’t mean [they] don’t have these implicit stereotypes,” It’s a campaign that could flourish in an environment where supporting causes can mean that you have to go all out for them or risk being labelled as someone not dedicated enough.

“UMass, at least in the past, has been known to be a very activist campus.” she allows. “It can be stressful if you just want to be a person. You know how there’s a ton of active people on campus, but there are people who don’t want to be totally active?

Maybe they’ll agree with the campaign, but they don’t feel comfortable going out and rallying -- we want to target people who are actively trying to make change but also the people who aren’t really comfortable going out to change society but at least they can make a change to themselves.”

The campaign’s message (to live an unlabelled life) is one that resonates even with the members. “It’s part of my own self-development,” she reflects. “We all do it -- we all have our own unconscious stereotypes...It’s something that you have to reflect on, and I think that it’s important for future generations that we can grow up treating people as individuals. Doesn’t sound like a hard thing to do, but it is hard. Humans love to categorize people.”

It seems especially true when looking at the campus’ annual climate report, which played a part in fueling the campaign. “I already knew that we’re not very diverse as a campus, but I was surprised that the efforts the campus has made to diversify aren’t really working out,” Pascale says. “I know the campus makes a lot of effort to diversify, but year to year, the numbers [of people that feel the campus has diversified] don’t change.”

“I think this might have to do with that there aren’t enough support groups for people on a campus that is predominantly white. I wish that UMass maybe changed their tactics or found other ways to be more inclusive.”

She’s fearful that the lack of diversity at the school may affect the diversity of its attendees. “When people visit the school and go on tours, maybe they don’t feel comfortable because we’re not that diverse, and that’s why they choose not to come here. I’m scared that that might be the case. Obviously [because] Massachusetts is predominantly white, and [because] it’s a state school...UMass makes so many efforts to diversify, I’m confused as to why there isn’t more diversity.”

Diversity is more important now than ever, especially in a campaign that aims to encourage it through asking people to think about their unconscious stereotypes. “In today’s society, there’s a lot of campaigns pushing back on the progress we’ve made,” Pascale explains. “There have been a lot of groups that have popped up and said ‘it’s okay to be racist again” and that people like ‘femi-nazis’ are taking [their issues] too far, that they should just chill out.”

“It’s not about chilling out, it’s about doing the things that we’ve been saying and normalizing them. I believe one of the main ways to do that is to attack unconscious stereotypes.”

Recently, the campaign hosted an event geared towards attacking unconscious stereotypes and revealing them. Inspired by a Heineken ad, the group felt that they could simulate something similar to the ad and produce the same results. “Can you meet someone on campus that you wouldn’t necessarily have a conversation with?” Pascale asks. “Can they look past their unconscious stereotypes and have a conversation?”

The event, titled “Beyond the Label”, almost sounds like the premise of a speed-dating event at first: two people sitting in a cubicle are given questions and time to answer them in the hopes that they will facilitate a conversation. “It’s not speed dating, but more of a conversation,” she laughs. “They’re going to have questions to ask each other. If they go through the questions and feel like they don’t have anything else to say each other, that’s fine, but we’re hoping they get inspired to have a conversation with each other.”

“I don’t think that anyone’s going to change their perspective, but I want them to realize that there are tons of people on campus that -- even though they’re different -- doesn’t mean that you can’t have a conversation with them.”

Unfortunately, for those that missed it, the event seems to have been a one-time-only opportunity, as many members of the campaign are graduating. However, footage from the event (and other students’ stories) can be found on (un)labeled’s website for all to peruse and learn from, hopefully, to work towards eliminating unconscious biases and to create a more diverse campus.

Cover Image Credit: Serena Wong

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23 Quotes And Lyrics For Independence Day In Pakistan

Yes, I might have chosen 23 because of March 23rd.
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With Pakistan's Independence day coming up on August 14, here are a few quotes and lyrics to make you feel inspired, reflective and maybe a little more patriotic!

1. “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” - Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan

2." With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve." - Muhammad Ali Jinnah

3. “Truth is the power that will resolve our problems.” - Imran Khan

4. "My message to you all is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation." - Muhammad Ali Jinnah

5. "Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians." - Muhammad Iqbal

6. "Pakistan is heir to an intellectual tradition of which the illustrious exponent was the poet and philosopher Mohammad Iqbal. He saw the future course for Islamic societies in a synthesis between adherence to the faith and adjustment to the modern age. " - Benazir Bhutto



7. "Jab bachchay mulq pay raaj karein, aur school mein bethain hon siyasatdaan. Wo din phir aayega jab aisa, hoga Pakistan. (When children rule the country and politicians are in school. A day will come when this will be Pakistan) - Strings," Main Tou Dekhoonga

8. "Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large." - Muhammad Ali Jinnah

9. Muhabat amn hai aur iss ka hai paigham Pakistan. (Love is peace and it's message is Pakistan) - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

10. "We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State." - Muhammad Ali Jinnah

11. "Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State - to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims - Hindus, Christians, and Parsis -- but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan." -- Muhammad Ali Jinnah

12. "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State." -- Muhammad Ali Jinnah

13. "There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women." -- Muhammad Ali Jinnah

14. "I want people to remember that Pakistan is my country. It is like my mother, and I love it dearly. Even if its people hate me, I will still love it." -- Malala Yousafzai

15. "If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor." -- Muhammad Ali Jinnah

16. “There are two social classes in Pakistan," Professor Superb said to his unsuspecting audience, gripping the podium with both hands as he spoke. "The first group, large and sweaty, contains those referred to as the masses. The second group is much smaller, but its members exercise vastly greater control over their immediate environment and are collectively termed the elite. The distinction between members of these two groups is made on the basis of control of an important resource:air-conditioning. You see, the elite have managed to re-create for themselves the living standards of say, Sweden without leaving the dusty plains of the subcontinent. They're a mixed lot - Punjabi and Pathans, Sindhis and Baluchis, smugglers , mullahs, soldiers, industrialists - united by their residence in an artificially cooled world. They wake up in air-conditioned houses, drive air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices, grab lunch in air-conditioned restaurants (rights of admission reserved), and at the end of the day go home to an air-conditioned lounges to relax in front of their wide-screen TVs. And if they should think about the rest of the people, the great uncooled, and become uneasy as they lie under their blankets in the middle of the summer, there is always prayer, five times a day, which they hope will gain them admittance to an air-conditioned heaven, or at the very least, a long, cool drink during a fiery day in hell.” ― Mohsin Hamid, Moth Smoke

17. "The hard thing about Pakistan is that they throw up these cricketers you've never seen before" -- Steve Waugh (praising Pakistan's ability to keep discovering fresh talent, evident in their 221-run victory against Australia in Dubai)

18. "Recognition and self-esteem must lead to pride in labour. Its benefit is two-fold; it will develop you and the nation together" -- Abdul Sattar Edhi

19. "Hum sab ki hai pehchaan, hum sab sa pakistan. (We all have an identity, our Pakistan)" -- Various Artists (reproduced in 1982 by Alamgir)

20. "Aisi zameen aur aasmaan, in ke siwa jaana kahaan? (With a ground and a sky like this, where else would you want to go?)" -- Vital Signs, Dil Dil Pakistan

21. "Pak sarzameen shad bad. (blessed be the sacred land)" -- Qaumi Tarana (National Anthem)

22. "Kitna kia hai intezaar. Aur karo gay? Kab tak? Ab khud kuch karna paray ga hum ko. (How long have you waited? Will you wait more? Till when? Now we'll have to do something ourselves)" -- Strings and Atif Aslam, Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga

23. "If your house is burning, wouldn't you try and put out the fire?" -- Imran Khan

Pakistan Zindabad!

Cover Image Credit: baaghi.tv

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Despite What You May Have Heard, Being An Introvert Is Totally Normal

Realizing that not everyone is built the same is extremely important.

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I used to beat myself up over wanting to hide away and curl up with a book at my own birthday parties. All my friends are outside, jumping on my trampoline, and 8-year-old me just wants to be alone! My parents tell me I used to cry or beg to go home at my friends' birthday parties and refuse to participate in the take-down of the pinata. Some of this was due to my introversion, and also partly due to my shyness and anxiety. Most of the time, shyness and introversion go hand-in-hand, but sometimes one doesn't equal the other.

Introverts and extroverts are just wired differently, and this shouldn't be a problem. While introverts crave a quiet space, extroverts feel energized with others around. Each person should evaluate their own needs as an introvert or extrovert and cater to them. Introverts that push themselves to be social to a point of exhaustion are just running themselves into the ground and should consider what makes them happiest. Staying at home and inviting one friend over as opposed to throwing a larger get-together is really nothing to be ashamed of; if you crave an intimate space to not have the life drained out of you, don't neglect your personal needs.

The misconception that one personality type is better than the other is also something that bothers me. Just because someone prefers to be by themselves doesn't mean they are weird or should conform to society by becoming more outgoing. Introverts are too often shamed for needing alone time (from personal experience), and it's uncomfortable to be constantly told that wanting to be by yourself is shameful.

As a young introvert, I absolutely despised being assigned to a group project in school. When the teacher says the dreaded words, most students groan in response. But for introverts, it can really be an annoyance. We tend to think deeply about things before saying them, and we also tend to work better alone. The group setting just isn't the right place for every student to be able to work successfully.

Often times, extroverts' ideas are the ones that are used in group assignments because they're the ones who voice their thoughts, sometimes without taking time to think them completely through. Introverts may not voice themselves as loudly as extroverts do, but they have plenty of good ideas, too. In a group setting, it might be a good idea to ask the quiet person what they think. Teachers should also consider not making group work mandatory for every student. It can cause distress and frustration to kids who shine on their own.

Writing this from an introvert perspective may seem biased, but I'm definitely not hating on extroverts. We are just different in the ways we think and recharge after a long day, and that's totally fine! Be mindful of the people in your life. Don't forget to ask yourself what you need to feel happy, too.

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