When you spend your days immersed in the world of online harassment, it’s always energizing to have some good news to share. In 2016, we began our Hack Harassment Campus Ambassador program, empowering college students to think outside the box and stand up with us against online harassment. We encouraged students to submit ideas on how they would help raise awareness or build technical solutions. Today, the #HackHarassment team is pleased to announce the first winners of our Campus Ambassador Grants. As part of our Campus Ambassador program, we invited our student organizers to apply for up to $2,000 in funding to engage their peers and bring the #HackHarassment message to their campus.
Our winners each bring their unique perspective and experience to our community. All four are active in the leadership of student organizations or have demonstrated entrepreneurial initiative. Each of them have experienced or witnessed incidents of online harassment themselves, and each has demonstrated through their application that they possess a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the broader social issues surrounding online harassment. Each student winner has also committed to conducting outreach to underrepresented and minority students as part of their grant activities, demonstrating that they recognize how these students are often disproportionately targeted by online harassers.
The four winners will use the grants during the upcoming semester to fund a campus event or activity that will help spread the word about the Hack Harassment campaign. Three out of the four winners will use their grants to sponsor on-campus hackathons to develop solutions to online harassment issues. Most of our winners have participated in other hackathons, and we’re excited to see them use their experience and connections to start building their own local hacktivist communities and engage more people in building real solutions to make the internet safer and more inclusive for everyone.
Congratulations to these four exemplary Hack Harassment Campus Ambassadors who are ready to make a difference in their community this year!
Grant Award Winners
School: Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia
Major: Computer Science
Project: Mobile App
“Our team has unique, combined insight on the struggles of the minorities that face harassment, because we are those minorities. We know the effects of harassment, the damage it can have on someone’s mental state. Knowing this, we can’t stand aside as countless people face harassment, especially as these numbers increase with recently stimulated racial/religious tension this year.”
Shane is part of a team of students who have already built an impressive mobile app which allows users to flag a local business where users have experienced online harassment. Shane is an entrepreneur who has been a part of several student-run companies, including one during high school which made almost $30k in revenue! Shane’s team proposes to use the Hack Harassment grant to enhance and promote their mobile app, expanding its functionality to include a chat function and the ability for users to include minority-friendly businesses in the app database. They also plan to create a website and promotional video to promote the app.
School: George Washington University, Washington, DC
Major: Computer Science
“As a queer woman in the historically male environment of STEM, I have always been prepared for friction, a consequence of larger community issues of intolerance.”
Samsara’s personal experiences with bullying and harassment in high school and college inspired her to use her technical skills to try to address online harassment systematically. She holds leadership positions in several of her university’s computer science organizations, and plans to engage a broad network of students, faculty, and organizations to promote her campus grant activity: a hackathon focused on anti-harassment solutions.
Samsara’s unique proposal starts with surveying various groups on campus to understand their views and perspectives on online harassment, before engaging those groups to organize the hackathon. After her event, she plans to use this data and the feedback she gathers to determine what specific tools and techniques were most successful in her efforts. The combination of a plan to develop practical solutions along with conducting social science research on online harassment is innovative, and we’re excited to see the results of Samsara’s efforts!
School: Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering
“By showing someone a different culture and people from their own, it helps to break the divide and help combat harassment both in-person and online.”
Obawole is already working to bring people together through his love of gaming. He is the president and founder of Toyz Nation Gaming League (TNGL), a Carnegie Mellon student organization with the goal of fostering diversity in the tech and creative fields through diversity. They recently hosted an event during the university’s Family Weekend which brought students and families together to play VR and console games. Obawole has also participated in a number of previous hackathons, and plans to include participants he’s met from a number of local colleges to attend his grant-sponsored event in the spring. He plans to use Intel-developed technologies such as the Realsense module and Edison development board, and plans to include students from diverse backgrounds.
School: University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Nebraska
Major: Psychological Studies in Education (Graduate)
“While I feel that it is important to listen and engage all members, it is equally important to protect those who may have a limited voice, and who may be subject to discrimination.”
Raul is a graduate student studying educational psychology, and has “dedicated [his] life to finding practical solutions to combat injustice.” His graduate research started at Seattle University, and has focused on bullying intervention and prevention. His ambitious plan for a 3-day hackathon on the UNL campus involves enlisting a number of student organizations and faculty to support him, while creating a student-faculty leadership team to help him organize and plan. He hopes to secure additional funding through our partners, Major League Hacking. Raul is the graduate research assistant for Dr. Sue Swearer, the professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and the chair of the Born This Way Foundation’s Research Advisory Board. Raul holds leadership positions in several diversity-focused student groups on his campus, and we’re excited to see what his efforts lead to!
The Hack Harassment team will be distributing these grants to our winners’ schools in January. They’ve already submitted detailed plans for each of their activities, and our staff will be working closely with them over the next few months to help them bring their ideas to life. Follow us on this blog or on Facebook and Twitter to hear about their progress leading up to their events.
If you’re a student with a passion for fighting online harassment, we’d love you to join our Campus Ambassador program for 2017! We hope to expand our grant program and solicit even more great ideas to help empower young people and continue our campaign next year.
Congratulations again to Shane, Samsara, Obawole, and Raul – our inaugural winners of the Hack Harassment grant awards!