A path toward a better Yik Yak

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Dear students,

We are writing you this letter because we are disappointed. The 1,791 of us are supposed to be some of the most intelligent young adults in the world. We are supposed to be the future leaders, innovators, and creative minds of our country. We are supposed to be representing an institution that prides itself on intellectual discovery and civic action. Despite these standards, many of us are choosing to hide behind the anonymity of Yik Yak and the bright LED screen of our iPhones.

The anonymous posts on Yik Yak that target individual students are senseless and are undermining what makes Bates unique—our strong sense of community. One comment can ruin someone’s day, week, college experience, or even take someone’s life. It’s time to understand the consequences of our actions and change the way we treat the people around us.

We have been trying to understand the motivations behind the negative comments on this app. What satisfaction are you getting from hurting your fellow classmates? Does this really make you feel good about yourself? Are you proud of your behavior? Remember, your comments are anonymous. What recognition are you even getting? We know that we are better than this.

This academic year has brought a lot of change to the Bates College campus. Drinking policies and Security interventions have left many of us feeling discouraged. We feel like we deserve respect and trust from our administration. We want to be treated as bright young adults who are responsible and deserving of a positive college experience. If we believe that we are deserving of something better, than we must hold ourselves to higher standards. We must hold each other to higher standards.

We get it. Many of the comments on Yik Yak are harmless or hilarious. The ducks? Commons coffee? These posts are witty, insightful and deserving of positive attention. Yaks encouraging members of our student body to seek help if they are struggling or depressed are inspiring. But posts that victimize specific individuals for their personal appearance or behaviors are not. All these stabs and digs at fellow Bates students bring nothing but negativity and pain to our community. We are stooping so low by encouraging this behavior. Let’s change this campus climate.

We have been working together to try and make Yik Yak a positive app that promotes kindness and creativity and allows students to enjoy a space filled with positive, interesting, funny and helpful information. Together, we can hold ourselves to a higher standard and prove to one another that the Bates College student body deserves better.

We are starting a campaign called “Yak It Bak.” During Yak It Bak week, students are encouraged to post a Yak corresponding to the theme of that day that promotes a new (and improved) Yik Yak environment. Here are the themes:

Meeting Monday #MM: Post about your interactions (or lack thereof) with your commons crush

Too Sweet Tuesday #TST: Interpret this as you wish. Do you have a favorite commons dessert? Is there someone that brightened your day today that deserves a shout-out?

What’s Up Wednesday #WUW: Post about fun events going on around campus

Thank You Thursday  #TYT:  Who deserves a thank you in your life?

Fall Friday #FF: What is your favorite fall activity?

Smile Saturday #SGS: What made you smile today?

Sunday Funday #SF: What are you up to today? Lazy Sunday?

We hope that this campaign will help eliminate the negativity and bullying that has occurred on Yik Yak. Please be respectful in your posts. Yak It Bak week will begin on Monday, November 10th.

Sincerely,

Brynn Wendel, Alyssa Morgosh, Nicki Brill, Jeff Jones, Molly Lodigiani, Nicole Cueli, Laryssa Schepel, James Karsten, and Amber Clark

Copyright (C) 2016 The Bates Student