Accounts of Discrimination Shared Anonymously via Instagram

In light of [email protected], Justice Lab launched the Instagram account UnheardNYU this February to highlight students’ experiences with discrimination.

New Instagram page by crimelab class that has anonymous cases of discrimination at NYU. (Staff photo by Jorene He)

Anonymous experiences of discrimination have been shared on an Instagram account created in February as an experiment in social justice.

The account, called UnheardNYU, has about 110 followers and was created by a group of seven students as an assignment for the Social and Cultural Analysis class Justice Lab, which focuses on teaching students how to create justice-led initiatives. 

Students are encouraged to either direct message the account with their experiences or fill out a Google form if they wish to maintain anonymity. So far, the page has six posts up, some detailing instances of discrimination between students and others between students and faculty. 

CAS junior Renuka Joshi, one of the account’s admins, said the group aims to highlight experiences of discrimination that some at NYU remain blind to.

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“We believe that although NYU prides itself on its inclusivity and diversity, there are microaggressions happening on the individual level that need to be addressed,” Joshi said via Facebook.

The idea to use an Instagram account came about after a class discussion about the role of social media in modern culture. The group decided that Instagram was probably the most accessible and widely used platform.

In winter 2017, NYU engaged in a similar effort to gather students’ experiences on campus with the [email protected] survey. This primary effort of the survey was to gauge campus climate among faculty, students and staff.

Another admin, Tisch senior Jasmine Johnson, said that although UnheardNYU is not a response to the survey, she still believes the survey was an important first step in addressing issues of discrimination on campus. However, she thinks the danger of a survey is that it is easy for students to forget once they’ve filled it out, especially if the student is not typically affected by discrimination.

“I think the appeal of a social media account that talks about these issues is that it’s accessible for a generation that’s constantly scrolling/liking/reposting,” Johnson said via Instagram. “And it forces the conversation to stay relevant when there’s a constant influx of submissions and postings.” 

The group has garnered followers on the account by sharing the link to it through Facebook posts and Instagram stories. 

Gallatin sophomore Kaylee Lamarche came across the page after seeing it on an Instagram story. 

“I was very intrigued by the idea of having a platform and being able to hear about the experiences of others in a streamlined way,” Lamarche said via Instagram.

Lamarche thinks that it is important to hear these experiences to remind students, faculty and staff that while NYU is often regarded as a progressive campus, more could be done to make the university more inclusive. 

Although the group of students behind the page is unsure how it will develop over time, they hope that it will create tangible change on campus, with the possibility that they could even present their findings to administration. 

“We’re definitely hoping that we can create awareness [among] students,” said Joshi. “But depending on the response we get, we’re hoping that we can take it to the higher-ups.” 

Email Bethany Allard at [email protected]

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