Douglas pledges action against bullying

Campaign encourages students to ‘DO’ something kind

By Dylan Hackett, News Editor

Last Wednesday, students and staff at both Douglas campuses, garbed in rosy hues, marked Pink Shirt Day by pledging to carry out acts of kindness in the college. Those not already donning pink shirts were given a commemorative T-shirt and students who tweeted “#BullyingStopsHere” along with a pledge were entered to win three limited-edition pink Douglas hoodies, granted to Jessica Taschner, Cordi Tanguay, and the Douglas Outdoors Club.

The letters “DO,” coloured pink, stood in the New Westminster concourse and by the early afternoon, were covered in dozens of sticky notes that read positive messages such as “Difference is the joy in life,” “Stand up for someone,” and “You rock. Don’t ever change.”

“We wanted there to be engagement,” said Chris Raeside, student staffer with Douglife. “At our video station, students would come up and say, ‘I will promote kindness at Douglas College by telling a random person in the hallway that they look great today!’ The other [station] was that they had to pull an action out of the hat. They said ‘give a random person a high-five’, ‘give a random person a hug’—[having students] actually do something kind, or telling us about something kind they do on campus. To steal a line from the Marketing and Communications Office, ‘At Douglas College, we DO kindness.”

Organizers took a less didactic approach than practiced by many other anti-bullying efforts, encouraging active kindness and mindfulness instead of deriding negative behaviour and those who bully.

Unlike most concourse events, Pink Shirt Day was put on in collaboration with several college departments that planned out the activities simultaneously taking place at David Lam and New Westminster. Douglife, the Office for New Students, Employee Development, and the Health and Safety office collaborated on all aspects of the organization—all in concert with the engagement and barrier-breaking themes that shaped the event.

“What we think was great about the day was cross-college involvement—we had employees involved, we had students involved, we had support from the DSU in what we were doing,” said Nancy Constable, director of safety, security, and risk management at Douglas. “It was so collaborative and there were so many ideas coming from students… it was a great chance to come together and that was the important message that we really wanted to get out there for the day.”

Near the close of the anti-bullying event, Bryan Aquino of the Douglas College Hip Hop club led the concourse in some steps, forcing participants to practice movement—not just kindness.

“Our goal [with the dance] was to break down the barrier and make people not feel uncomfortable about getting up because they know when they get up there they’re not going to be bullied,” explained Raeside.

Pink Shirt Day is recognized across Canada and was started by Nova Scotian high school students in response to a fellow student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.