The “Take Back Yik Yak” campaign, which aims to foster an inclusive community on campus and promote positivity on Yik Yak, officially launched this Wednesday, April 22, the same day as Communal Principles Day.
An SA resolution endorsing the “Take Back Yik Yak” initiative was unanimously approved over two weeks ago on Monday, April 6. SA Senator and freshman Delvin Moody and SA Senator at-large and junior SeQuoia Kemp submitted the resolution, and they explained that they began the initiative partially in response to racist and derogatory Yik Yak posts.
Kemp called the posts referring to Douglass Leadership House (DLH) as the “tipping point” and the “icing on the cake.” DLH had faced similar comments in the past, and there had also been many negative Yik Yak posts consistently targeting other groups of UR students.
Moody said that this negativity highlighted the presence of a noninclusive culture on campus. He hosted a Town Hall on Race and Diversity on March 5, and while some students advocated for banning Yik Yak at the Town Hall, Kemp suggested taking Yik Yak “back” by promoting positivity on the app. Additionally, Moody said that banning Yik Yak would be ineffective, as the same attitudes behind the negative posts would simply find another outlet.
The initiative’s goals include creating positive posts, downvoting negative ones and fostering an inclusive culture outside of the app. The posts on Yik Yak, Moody felt, were indicative of a much larger problem that extended far beyond the app, though Kemp added that Yik Yak can be a “breeding ground for ignorance.”
Moody explained that although “the tagline is ‘Take Back Yik Yak,’” he and Kemp hope to encourage inclusiveness across all social media platforms.
“I’m not saying that everyone has to always agree and that we’re trying to stifle freedom of speech,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent offensive, really hurtful posts.”
Kemp recalled that the “biggest responses” have been that the negativity on Yik Yak does not reflect attitudes on campus. However, she said, “These are students’ words, these are their actions and it is a reflection of our campus.” Moody and Kemp hope that students, especially bystanders, will take a more proactive role in helping foster an inclusive environment.
Less than a day into the campaign, the responses on UR’s Yik Yak feed seem unreceptive. Some posts complain that “Take Back Yik Yak” is trying to take away freedom of speech, while some wonder at the effectiveness of the proposed initiative and others are aggressively against it.
Lai is a member of
the class of 2018.