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Saint Mary’s students start ‘Like a Belle’ anti-bullying campaign

| Thursday, March 9, 2017

In an effort to combat bullying, Saint Mary’s Justice Student Advisory Committee has introduced the hashtag #LikeaBelle to be used on social media in order to promote inclusivity on campus. Students discussed the social media campaign during a panel on bullying on campus that was held during the second day of the College’s Diverse Student Leadership Conference.

Junior Morgan Matthews said the movement started as a response to incidences of bullying that occurred within the freshman class before the school year had even begun.

“There was a lot of just bullying, whether it be from person to person, or lying or from text, and it really started progressing into [other] classes,” Matthews said. “So we really wanted to fight this from the inside out — we wanted to promote diversity among the Belles.”

The campaign is aimed at demonstrating that there is no one way to be a Belle, Matthews said.

“What our #LikeaBelle campaign is really trying to promote is how a Saint Mary’s Belle isn’t a one kind of person,” she said. “It has the whole spectrum of who you are as an individual.”

Senior Caylin McCallick said the hashtag was made for everyday use for students on social media.

“My vision for this was someone posting a status like, ‘On my way to a meeting, just took an exam, going to study later #LikeaBelle,’” she said.

The group is making three-minute videos — that are posted to their Facebook page — of interviews with students about what they like about the College, Matthews said. The videos are published every two weeks, she said.

“What we want to gain from this is inclusivity,” Matthews said.

Matthews said the group has seven videos made with students with different aspects of the college.

“They showcase different groups of Belles,” Matthews said.

McCallick said they would like to reach out to local schools about combating bullying.

“We decided that would be best played out if we did assemblies at local schools to promote anti-bullying in their environments, as well,” McCallick said.

Matthews said that teaching the local students about bullying will help the students in the future.

“It really makes a difference when you get older,” Matthews said.

Junior Alex Shambery said the campaign is also aimed at showing non-students the diversity and inclusiveness of the campus, as well.

“We’re just hoping to get the word out about how diverse our campus is and how loving we are of one another,” Shamberry said. “It’s really just showing support for other students and showing other students that we are a very inclusive and a very loving community.”

McCallick said that the group knows that not all students have the same experience at Saint Mary’s, but should feel welcome.

“Not everyone’s Saint Mary’s experience is going to be the same and we know that,” McCallick said. “Not everyone is going to have the typical Saint Mary’s sisterhood feeling and that’s okay if you’re not experiencing that; then we want to help you find somewhere that you feel comfortable on this campus.”

McCallick said that the campus was not prepared for the bullying to happen, but they can now handle this problem with inclusion.

“It’s unfortunate that this year when we have an amazingly diverse freshmen class … we weren’t prepared to help meet the needs of that class to make sure they transitioned well,” McCallick said. “But we can do it now.”

Shambery said the next freshmen class should watch the videos before they come to campus.

“I think it’s a very good idea to get to them before they settle in,” Shambery said.

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