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FORUM SEPTEMBER 26, 2017Â | VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1

Issue on Social Media Activism YOUR VOICE. YOUR CONCERNS. YOUR CONTRIBUTION.


Inside Table of Contents 2 3

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Upcoming Events Cover Story: What Is Social Media Activism? Article: A Letter from the Team: What Social Media Activism Means to Us

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Article: Twitter and OU's Food Pantry Campaign

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Art: #yOUrbad Tweets: Self-Expression Online

Our Team Editor-in-Chief

Emily "Eddy" Mee

Director of Media

Olan Field

Managing Editor

Moriah Hayes

Director of Marketing

Rachel Whitfield

Student Section Editors

Kelsey Morris Nayyifa Nihad

Advisory Board

Alumni Section Editor

Olan Field

Professors Section Editor

Miranda Koutahi

Dr. Brian Johnson Dr. Joy Pendley Dr. Meg Sibbett Professor Mel Odom Professor Mary Anna Evans Dr. Linda Kelly

Arts Section Editor

Meghan Brobst

Mission Statement: To serve as OU’s central sounding board, bringing together different voices and disciplines to inform, inspire, and encourage interaction on campus.

Disclaimer: FORUM is an independent student organization, and the views and opinions expressed in it are the personal views of the contributors and FORUM Team and do not represent views of The University of Oklahoma. Quotes and contributions have been edited for grammar, typos, and length.


Upcoming Events Step In Speak Out When: Sep. 27 from 1 – 5pm

Where: Heritage Room of the Oklahoma Memorial Union

The Step In Speak Out program is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma Women’s Outreach Center. It has three intended goals. The first is to define the problem of rape on college campuses. The second is to look at ways that a bystander could affect a sexual assault. The third goal is to outline specific ways someone can step in and help fellow students who may be at risk.

Despicable Me 3 When: Sep. 29 at 6pm, 9pm, and midnight Where: Meacham Auditorium

OU Women's Volleyball Game When: October 4 at 7pm Tickets: Get in with your student ID Where: McCasland Field House The OU women's volleyball team will be playing Texas Tech. Come out and support the team!

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Cover Story: What Is Social Media Activism?

Credit: Creative Commons

As technology has evolved and the political climate has grown more intense, political activism has taken a new role through the use of social media. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have allowed an unprecedented level of communication among groups, enabling them to grow in number. On the OU campus, President Boren has utilized Twitter as a way to speak directly to the student body, in the moment, with urgency. With other prominent voices in our community, we have seen a surge of organized protests at the capital, as well as more informal local gatherings of solidarity in our local communities. In addition, social media has allowed yet another platform for one’s opinions and lively discussions. Particularly among young people, social media has become the primary way we promote our political opinions. These new forms of communication were vital in the organizing of the Women's March and for the immediate response to dozens of gatherings to hold anti-protests for many of President Trump’s political decisions. They were equally important to stomp out racism in the moments after Charlottesville. This issue was inspired by the rise in social media activism in light of the recent political discontent and by the amount of activism seen among our students and faculty here at OU. The following pages explore the advances and drawbacks activists have encountered through online platforms and highlight individuals and organizations that have utilized these platforms to advance their beliefs and raise their voices.Â

Olan Field Alumni Section Editor and Director of Media 3


A Letter from the Team: What Social Media Activism Means to Us

Credit: Creative Commons

When considering the theme for this mini issue, we wanted to highlight the ways in which people process the world's current political environment. While social media has allowed for a much-needed platform for communities and individuals to raise their voices, it has also allowed a platform for hate groups and individuals to voice their discontent regarding a more inclusive and globalized society. The problem only grew when President-elect Donald Trump began invoking social media as a platform for his own personal rants and political and social commentary. While many of us may be familiar with the rants and ramblings of relatives, it is an entirely different experience when a public figure turned political forerunner

in a presidential election sets this kind of precedent. It has opened the floodgates for the tolerance and normalization of ignorant beliefs and unwarranted hatred, especially online. When someone feels that they can hide behind a screen, it becomes easier to make inflammatory and offensive statements, and social media has certainly created a larger audience and more targets for this type of abuse. Â As social media has given a greater platform to many of these groups and individuals, many of the algorithms these sites use essentially generate "echo chambers" of information to circulate 4


among like-minded people. While this can be a good thing (i.e., providing people with a network of support), it can also foster radicalism and further the political divides we face as a country. Notwithstanding these critiques, social media activism has been a force for good in many ways. Social media activism can consistently be found in acts of self-care. A transgender woman funding for her transition online is a form of activism. It is a form of activism when black and brown folks take to social media to announce a break from those platforms. This often happens due to rampant normalization of POC murder in the form of video footage spread in the wake of another police brutality case. Social media spaces can be a great platform for self-care, but we must recognize the limitations of these spaces. We can see this problematic deficit when our peers have to fundraise for life-saving medical procedures. At times, it seems social media is used to attempt to pick up the extra work where society fails. We must consider the ways we can effectively use social media for our benefit while addressing the problematic implications of its increased presence in our politics and daily lives.

Credit: Creative Commons

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Twitter and OU's Food Pantry Campaign by Andrew Racki

I woke up on September 8th to an OU Daily article discussing how the OU Food Pantry was beginning to run low on supplies. My father had texted me about it as well, remarking how unfortunate it was that some students were so burdened by tuition that they were being forced to choose between attending college and being able to eat. I realized he was right. It's terrible that anyone should be put in a position where they might have to worry about getting enough food to eat. For the next couple of hours, I thought about what I could do to help. I came to OU from the suburbs of Chicago, so while I haven’t been in Oklahoma for very long, I’ve found that OU has helped me reinvent myself into the person I wanted to be five years ago. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to start giving back to the community that helped shape who I am. I found a few Target gift cards, siphoned off some money from my bank account, and pooled together about $125 that I would use to buy supplies for the OU Food Pantry. However, I didn’t feel like that went far enough. So, before my 10:30am class, I posted a tweet pledging $0.10 per retweet and $0.05 per like for supplies for the food pantry. I hoped that the tweet would spread enough to get about $30 worth of supplies and raise some awareness in the process. What actually happened was far beyond what I could have expected. I soon upped my pledge to $0.25 per retweet and $0.10 per like, again only expecting a relatively minimal response. As the day wore on, however, the tweet started getting more and more attention. By the afternoon, the tweet reached about $25 worth of likes and retweets. The next day, it started spreading like wildfire. At the peak, I believe $30 worth of likes and retweets had been accumulated in an hour. People from Oklahoma State, the University of Texas, even as far away as USC and New York City were sharing the tweet. It was truly a dream come true to see how many people cared. As I type this, nearly four days later, just over $330 worth of likes and retweets have been accumulated. I’ve already donated $250 in food and supplies to the pantry and plan on another $150 donation in the next few weeks. Through a single tweet, the OU community came together to raise awareness for the OU Food Pantry, to help keep the pantry stocked, and to help keep OU students well fed. It’s simply caring for our fellow classmates and our community as a whole, and it’s truly a privilege to help in whatever way I can. Other organizations need assistance, too, and hopefully this experience will give others the initiative to help.  6


#yOUrbad Tweets: Self-Expression Online @yourbadOU is a Twitter account started by women of color activists. Its goal is amplifying the voices of students and employees at the University of Oklahoma through social media expression. Below are screenshots from tweets affiliated with the #yOUrbad tag.

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About the Contributors

Originally from Chicago, Andrew Racki is now a third-year economics and finance major at the University of Oklahoma. This year, Racki drew campus-wide attention for his efforts supporting the OU Food Pantry.

All pictures are the property of OU FORUM or used with permission of the accompanying article's author or are under the Creative Commons License.

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Social Media Activism | September 26, 2017 | Volume 3, Issue 1