#HackUNL is April 14-16 and will bring students together to build solutions reducing online harassment and cyberbullying. Raul was a recipient of a Hack Harassment Campus Grant. Great work!
Technology is growing at such a rapid pace that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with its capabilities. It is up to all of us to be socially responsible and to stand up when we see injustices online. Standing up doesn’t necessarily have to mean confronting a perpetrator. Standing up can be as simple as supporting a victim of online harassment by contributing kind messages to threads. Be an upstander! Just this past Super Bowl weekend, Lady Gaga was body-shamed online by some internet users after her AMAZING Super Bowl performance! (I mean, come on! She jumped off an NFL stadium and sang some of her major hits for 13+ minutes!) While it was disheartening to read these negative online posts aimed to hurt and undermine her hard work, it was uplifting to see so many upstanders speak up against these hateful messages. Not only did her historical performance make headlines the days that followed, but also, her fans who took a stand against online harassment received some much-deserved attention!
In 2013, Dr. Samuel Y. Song and Kelly Marth wrote, “The two basic premises of loving justice are outwardness and transformation.” This sentence is at the very heart of why I am a Hack Harassment Campus Ambassador. We live in a world where many diverse groups of people have been marginalized and lack the support needed to flourish within our society. I signed up to be a Hack Harassment Campus Ambassador because I believe that one person can make a difference in the lives of many. As a Campus Ambassador, I have been given the opportunity to directly facilitate positive change with a project, #HackUNL, aimed at creating a safer, more inclusive online space for all individuals.
For me, #HackUNL is about creating a unique space where psychologists, computer science students, and other UNL students who care about the issue of online harassment can come together to create practical solutions to combat negative online behavior. It is my hope that these solutions will be grounded by current research findings, can be used by everyday people, and can help inform future solutions that have been yet to be constructed. In an attempt to help increase our participant’s knowledge on current research findings around cyberbullying/online harassment, we have created three #HackUNL workshops where experts on bullying will come to talk to students about the complex issues that are embedded within cyberbullying/online harassment. The #HackUNL workshops will also serve as a fun way to create new partnerships between students who have a variety of skills!
In addition to being a Campus Ambassador, I am school psychology doctoral student at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where I work under the direction of Dr. Susan Swearer in her Empowerment Initiative, and as a graduate assistant for Born This Way Foundation (BTWF). I am also the active president for the Diversity and Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee (DEMAC) in UNL’s College of Educational Psychology department and am an active member of the Student Affiliates of School Psychology (UNL SASP). One thing that all of these organizations have in common is that they all value diversity and without their support, #HackUNL would not be possible. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Nick Ames and the UNL Student Involvement Center, the #HackUNL Leadership Team (Sourabh, Guadalupe, Sonya, and Zach), the ASUN Graduate Student Assembly, and Hack Harassment for their support with #HackUNL. If you have ever had experience organizing an event, then you know how beneficial it is to have a supportive community.
Looking towards the future, it is my hope that there will be an open source of information flowing between tech communities and researchers. As experts in their respective fields, the combination of the two will, in my opinion, lead to powerful applications and initiatives that can really make a difference in the lives of everyday people. I applaud organizations like Hack Harassment and BTWF for placing value on research-informed decision-making in their organization’s programming. Moreover, I feel fortunate that I am able to be a part of two organizations that value inclusion and support the wellbeing of all individuals. Personally, #HackUNL is only the beginning for me in my mission to help to create a kinder and braver world.
Raul A. Palacios II
UNL Campus Ambassador