Student government campaign encourages students to ‘down vote hate’ online

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Don’t say it. Don’t share it. Don’t spread it.

Those are the tenets of Down Vote Hate, a new social media campaign that encourages members of the University of Iowa community to build a more inviting, inclusive space for students to interact in online.

down vote hate logo

When student leaders became concerned about offensive messages being directed toward their fellow Hawkeyes on mobile apps like Yik Yak, they decided to act, creating the Down Vote Hate campaign, which begins on Monday, Sept. 12.

“The idea is that we can all work together to stop hate online,” says Rachel Zuckerman, president of UI Student Government. “So it’s not only ‘don’t say it, don’t share it, don’t spread it,’ but also playing an active role in reducing hate in online spaces.”

Yik Yak is a semi-anonymous social media app that allows people to post and reply to comments on a feed based on their geographic location. If a post isn’t popular among local users and receives five negative (down) votes, it is removed from the feed, per Yik Yak policy. The Down Vote Hate campaign asks users to help represent the shared values of the university community by down voting comments that are negative, hateful, or bigoted in nature.

“This is an opportunity for all of us to be active bystanders, embrace diversity online, and continue to cultivate a culture of inclusion on our campus,” says Tom Rocklin, vice president for student life. “All students have a right to feel welcome here, and that includes online spaces where they often interact. We believe the best way to respond to negative speech is to counter it with positive speech that represents our values.”

The campaign was organized by leaders of UI Student Government, Graduate and Professional Student Government, the Office of the Vice President for Student Life, and the Center for Diversity and Enrichment.

Want to help?

  • Down vote hateful comments on Yik Yak.
  • Don’t post negative messages online.
  • Share the Down Vote Hate social media graphics, and change your Facebook cover photo to the “I support #HawksDontHate” image.
  • Use the hashtags #HawksDontHate or #DownVoteHate to share positive messages on social media throughout the year.
  • Continue to support campus inclusion efforts at the University of Iowa—both online and offline.