A new organization at Temple is working to ensure that residential life remains an enjoyable element of the college experience.
The Owl Stand Up program, started by Assistant Director of Residential Life Steve Dexter, intends to promote the core values of respect and responsibility the rest of the university expects from students inside the classroom.
“We are trying to be an organization that clearly defines our values, and those values are responsibility, integrity, respect, support and the other big piece of the campaign, which is leadership,” Dexter said. “We work with a bunch of school leaders, and this campaign is an effort to let students know what we are about.”
Whether or not bullying is an obvious problem, Dexter said it is something Residential Life must address and handle properly by letting students know what is and is not acceptable.
“Across the nation, bullying is an issue in high school, which often leads into college,” Dexter said. “We have had a few incidents of bias [at Temple], so we are working to help teach our residents about respect and responsibility.”
One of the most recognizable aspects of the campaign involves posters around each of the residence halls.
The posters show students with painted messages on their arms such as “stop hate” and “start educating,” and are designed to raise awareness and inspire students.
Since launching the campaign about a year ago, Dexter said Residential Life has focused on the work of resident assistants.
“When I was thinking about this program and this campaign, I really wanted to highlight and capitalize on the RAs and student workers in our department,” Dexter said. “I wanted to use them as an outlet to let students know what we will and will not tolerate.”
Owl Stand Up also holds RA-led programs each month to promote its message.
Nadia Ouazzi, an RA in Morgan Hall, said the program is addressing an issue that she and other students experience all of the time.
“I think the idea of spreading kindness is always a good idea,” the junior communications major said. “As students, we see and hear so many stories of bullying and being mean to one another, which is so disheartening. I believe anything that encourages acceptance and kindness is a campaign worth supporting.”
Dexter said students can also use Twitter to interact with members of the program. On each poster, students will see the hashtag “#owlstandup,” which provides another outlet for students to ask questions and get involved.
By providing these outlets to students via their RAs and other aspects of residential life, Dexter said he hopes the program will provide encouragement to speak up against disrespect in the residence halls.
“My ultimate goal and wish would be that all students, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation [or] ethnicity can come into one of our residence halls and live and thrive feeling safe, welcomed and encouraged to be who they are,” Dexter said.
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.