T-Shirt Project Encourages Wittenberg
Community To Stamp Out Stereotypes
Sept. 14, 2006
“I was on the Internet and saw a school that did this,” said Forest Wortham, director of multicultural student programs and adviser to Concerned Black Students (CBS). “However, that school didn’t write stereotypes on the back of the shirts.”
During Wittenberg’s annual Activities Fair in August, students were encouraged to stop by the CBS table to pick up a shirt. To connect the community and give the shirts individualistic appeal, markers were provided so participants could write a stereotype about themselves they hoped to abolish.
The diverse group of co-sponsors, including CBS, the Office of Greek Life, Multicultural Student Programs and Student Senate, shows the wide reach and magnitude of this project. It isn’t simply an issue of erasing stereotypes from a visible perspective but treading below the lines of color and getting to the heart of understanding different cultures.
Wittenberg ’s annual Unity March, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, will integrate the shirts into the day’s activities. Instead of donning the normal Unity March shirt that lists all the clubs sponsoring Unity Week, participants are encouraged to wear the stereotype shirts.
“The shirts add a more personal statement to Unity March. This should pull in more people because everyone has been stereotyped,” Wortham said.
The stereotype project has helped students like Alicia Lewis, class of 2008 from Milford, Ohio, pay closer attention to preconceived notions she may have had about others.
“The project is important to me because in conversation, you can always hear the stereotypes people have of others,” Lewis said. “This has made me more open to others, and I am much less quick to judge or stereotype.”
Wortham sees the implementation of the shirts as just one step of many to come in creating a Wittenberg community that is more aware and accepting of differences. Wortham encourages the various groups on campus to come together and spread knowledge about stereotypes they have faced.
“This is something that each group could do once or twice a month,” Wortham said.
Through a process that Wortham refers to as “incidental learning,” he hopes that the project will raise a consciousness level around campus, even among students who don’t wear them, and encourage students to get to know one another on a deeper level.
The project will be followed up with a poster campaign throughout the semester and a social justice improvisation program later in the school year, Wortham said, adding that he would like to see the project extend beyond a few weeks to create a long-lasting message that becomes part of the Wittenberg tradition.
- Written By: Erica Strauss '08
- Photo By: Rebecca Horn '08