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'No Name Calling Week' offers opportunities to show respect

by UofL Today last modified Jan 24, 2011 07:37 PM

University of Louisville students, faculty and staff will highlight the issues of bias and bullying during a series of free, public events Jan. 24-28 on Belknap Campus.

'No Name Calling Week' offers opportunities to show respect

BIRT's first official event was a vigil for Rutgers student Tyler Clementi.

UofL is teaming with other schools across the nation to celebrate "No Name-Calling Week," an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and inspiring an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. Funded in part by Cisco Systems, the national Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network coordinates the weeklong event. Partners include Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing.

UofL's Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is coordinating "No Name-Calling Week" activities on campus.

"We're joining universities around the country to spread the message that civility and support are important, and that bullying and bias are not acceptable," said Brian Buford, director of UofL's LGBT Services Office and a BIRT member.

Campus commemoration of "No Name-Calling Week" began Monday, Jan. 24, with "She is Such a Frenemy," a candid discussion "about the type of friend whose words or actions bring you down."

On Tuesday and Friday, from noon to 2 p.m. on the Student Activities Center ramp, volunteers from the PEACC Program, the Cultural Center and the LGBT Services Office will offer free compliments to passersby, and students will have the opportunity to sign a pledge to support a hate-free campus.

International students will discuss their experiences with bullying and hate during an international tea Wednesday, Jan. 26, at noon in the Cultural Center.

The Cultural Center will be host to a hate-free pledge party Thursday, Jan. 27, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Students will be encouraged to sign the pledge. The event will include free pizza.

The organizers also are trying to hold events at the Health Sciences Center. (See a schedule)

"UofL has a strong record of embracing diversity and providing support to students from all backgrounds," said Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost for diversity and international affairs. "Still, this is an issue that needs constant attention. These events will help emphasize the importance of respect and civility and remind us that we must continue to work until all members of our campus feel welcomed and supported." 

Besides the special events, the week will serve as a reintroduction of BIRT to the campus community.

Established through the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality Campus Environment Team, BIRT is a group of faculty and staff who are committed to creating a proactive response to instances of hate and bias on campus. Its members offer support to those who have been victims of bias or hate, refer them to resources and services, educate the campus community about the issue and promote initiatives and new ideas that create a more welcoming campus. Its members come from such offices and organizations as the Cultural Center, LGBT Services Office, Residence Life, PEACC Program, CODRE and the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and International Affairs.

The organization's first official event was an October vigil in response to the death of a Rutgers University student who committed suicide after being the victim of cyber bullying.

"BIRT will play an important role at UofL," Taylor-Archer said. "Students, faculty and staff need to know there is somewhere to go for help when they are victims of bias or hate. We want them to know they have support. We're here, and we want to help."

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