Student group recognised for 'Racism stops at UTS' campaign
At the 2018 UTS Human Rights Awards, former Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane was awarded the inaugural ‘Champion for Social Justice Award’, recognising a UTS community partner who has demonstrated enduring commitment to defending human rights, as well as ongoing support for UTS and the work it does.
The announcement of this new Award was a pleasant surprise for all in attendance, especially Tim, who was celebrating his final formal public engagement as Race Discrimination Commissioner.
While Commissioner, Tim collaborated with UTS on a number on initiatives, including the national ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign.
It seems fitting then that, at the very same awards ceremony, a group of UTS students were recognised for bringing this very campaign onto campus and to the forefront of everyone’s minds.
The UTS Society of Communications (UTSoC) began work on their ‘Racism stops at UTS’ campaign in 2016, and increased their efforts in 2017 in an attempt to spread messages of tolerance and acceptance across the university.
“We believe it's an important issue, and something we would like to highlight within UTS, which has an extremely diverse, multicultural student base,” said UTSoC President Finn Parker.
The campaign involved creating a video, social media posts and black and white posters which were displayed across campus in key areas where students mingle.
It aimed to empower those in the UTS and wider community to stand up to racism, both on campus and beyond.
The campaign involved months of planning, including talking with staff and students, online marketing, booking spaces on campus and organising the appearance of high profile members of the UTS community, including Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs, to appear in their video.
“Our director, Harry Roth, worked extremely long days during the filming and editing process, and then we had ongoing logistical and administrative tasks to complete,” Finn said.
The video received over 20 thousand views on Facebook as well as 312 likes and 29 comments.
However, it wasn’t just in the online space that this campaign was having an impact.
“Personally, I'm most proud to see the engagement with this campaign from our members and the UTS community. It’s one thing to like something on Facebook, but the level of active participation we received was unreal,” Finn said.
The campaign also brought attention to the national ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign, with 37% of UTSoC members surveyed saying they weren’t aware of the campaign prior to seeing it promoted around campus.
In 2018, UTSoC ran another campaign called UTyeS, which aimed to address homophobia, and start a conversation about issues facing the LGBTIQ+ community. The Society, in collaboration with the UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, screened their campaign video at the 2018 ‘Wear It Purple Day’ event on campus.
UTSoC received a Commendation at the UTS Human Rights Awards in the ‘Creative Media Social Justice Award’ category, which recognises an audio, visual or multimedia project in which social justice and human rights themes are explored.
While thrilled to have been recognised at the Awards, Finn said, “[T]he most important thing for us as a society has always been to run impactful campaigns and social justice initiatives. Change is a group effort, and we're always looking for people with a passion for social justice and outreach.”