In response to the hatred that has been spread across the United States in the past few months, a trend has been adopted at Keene State College to show solidarity. An Introduction to Public Relations class taught by Dr. Marianne Salcetti chose their final project to be one of unity by bringing the Peace In Need (P.I.N.) project to campus.
The class has been handing out bookmarks to professors, students and organizations that hold a safety pin on them. These safety pins, when worn, allow that person to act as a safe space for those who feel underrepresented or disrespected. On the bookmark, there is a list of all minority groups on one side and on the other is a list of resources to contact if needed, such as Campus Safety and The Counseling Center.
KSC junior Sam Stephenson is among the students working on this project, and said this movement is more than just a token. “This isn’t like putting a rainbow over your profile picture or putting the heart with the French flag when Paris was bombed–it’s action,” Stephenson said. “By wearing the safety pin, it’s not that you’re just campaigning for something, it’s that you care about the people around you and that you’re there to listen and that’s really what it is. We’re here to listen to what people have to say and the voices that aren’t being heard.”
With the recent acts of vandalism in Carle Hall emulating white supremacy, Stephenson said these pins are now even more relevant. By taking a pin, Stephenson said you are an outlet for anyone who feels unsafe. “When someone comes up to you, you do have the obligation to be there for them no matter what. You can’t pick and choose. You can’t say ‘I’m here for people of color, but I’m not going to be there for gay people.’ It’s all inclusive,” Stephenson said.
To avoid exclusion, the class is pushing politics aside. However, when the class held a tabling event on Monday, Nov. 5 in the Student Center, several students who took a pin did it because of the election outcome.
KSC senior Chris Barriss was amongst the students grabbing a pin because of our new President-elect. “I am worried about Trump for our future because he doesn’t seem very LGBTQ+ friendly and supportive,” Barriss said.
While some took a pin to stand with those discriminated by Trump, some are wearing it for other reasons. Member of the class and KSC senior Sandra Kayira said she wants to stay open-minded when wearing her pin. “Now I’m ready to have conversations with people who supported Trump instead of painting them as homophobic or racist. They were the silent majority and now it’s time to open that dialogue,” Kayira said.
The P.I.N. project has just started getting faculty, staff and students involved with the movement, but still has a lot more distribution to do.
KSC junior Ian Stewart said he is excited to be involved in this assignment that matters. “It’s cool to do a final that is going to matter after we receive our grade. It’s better than doing something that we are not going to pursue after the class is over,” Stewart said. While Stewart acknowledged that as a white male he cannot fully relate to the minorities, he wants to be there for them. “I feel like I can’t understand what these people [minorities] are going through, but at the same time I want to help and unify,” Stewart said.
As the bookmark reads, “If you need me, I’ll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me too.” For those interested in becoming involved with the P.I.N. Project, contact Marianne Salcetti at email@example.com. If you or anyone you know feels victimized or discriminated against, reach out to Campus Safety, The Counseling Center, The Office for Multicultural Student Support and/or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org