In just about every college film, you hear young men bark phrases like "Man up!" or "That's so gay!" to one another. As harsh and insensitive as those words they are and as much damage as they can do to young men, they are all too common within certain social circles.
Four Duke University students made a decision that they could either hear those words on campus over and over and ignore them, or they could take a stand. They chose the latter, and the You Don't Say projectwas born. A collaborative effort between Think Before You Talk, a student-led group about language awareness, and Blue Devils United, a student group for LGBTQ undergraduate students, the project has produced a bold series of posters that feature strong stances on damaging phrases.
Daniel Kort, 19, is one of the four people on the project. Kort told HLN that it all started out as an idea, and that he and the other three members behind the project (Anuj Chhabra, Christie Lawrence and Jay Sullivan) reached out to friends and members of their respective organizations to bring the idea to life.
"We wanted to be mindful of the kind of language we used," Kort said. "We would just like it if people considered the words they used, and what kind of impact they can have."
After finding willing participants, creating the posters and putting them up on campus, the school newspaper's editorial board and the office of Student Affairs spoke out in favor of the project. The next thing they knew, the project was being talked about in magazines and on the news. Kort told HLN that not all feedback they got was positive, though.
"Some people on Facebook said that they felt the project was limited in scope, only targeting gender minorities," Kort said. "Thanks to their feedback and the general response to this project, we will be able to address more issues in future installments, such as racism."
For every time that people try to fight against negative words and habits, though, there is always kickback. The You Don't Say team saw its share of it.
"We've been accused of being too PC and promoting censorship," Kort said. "But the thing is, these posters don't say 'You shouldn't say.' Instead, they say 'I don't say.' There's a difference."