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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014

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STARS Halloween racism campaign receives national recognition


On Oct. 21, Ohio University senior Sarah Williams and president of Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS), posted images from the STARS campaign, "We're A Culture, Not A Costume," on her Tumblr page.

Without thinking much more about the campaign or her recent post, she shut off her computer and continued with her every day routine.

But little did she know that in a matter of hours, her life would be turned upside down.

Since her Tumblr post, Sarah has been contacted by ABC News, CNN, The Huffington Post, FOX News and NBC. Her Tumblr account has received more than 8,000 views and the STARS campaign has become the new leader of racial awareness.

According to Williams' Tumblr page, she is very proud of the support the campaign has received.

"Thanks to everyone for the kind words," Williams wrote, "The purpose of the campaign was to educate and create dialogue, and it did."

The "We're A Culture, Not A Costume" campaign hopes to foster discussion of racism through its posters, which feature different students holding pictures of others dressed in offensive Halloween costumes. These posters are aimed to discourage people from impersonating racial stereotypes, especially on Halloween.

Stephanie Sheeley, treasurer of STARS, says the student organization's goal is to get students and teachers talking about offensive Halloween costumes, including dressing like a geisha or in black face.

"I'm extremely happy with our success," Sheeley said. "Teachers and students are definitely talking about the issue."

Ohio University Dean of Students, Ryan Lombardi, echoes Sheeley's pride of the campaign and praises the student organization.

"I was very pleased to see STARS effort with this campaign," Lombardi said. "It was completely student initiated. Sarah Williams (STARS President) came into my office on Friday and asked if Student Affairs could provide financial support to print the posters. I thought they were very well done and wanted to support the student organization, so we gave them the necessary funding. The campaign took off shortly thereafter."

And took off it did!

STARS is now selling the campaign posters to schools and universities around the country, as well as distributing them throughout the Athens campus.

While there has been some negative feedback on the campaign, the majority of Ohio University students is more than supportive of this campaign and welcomes the campus-wide distribution of posters.

Ohio University senior, Shawn Silvis, says that raising awareness about racism is key to the campaign's success.

"A lot of people don't realize that dressing up as another culture is racist," Silvis said. "This is a great campaign that starts discussion on racism, and it's amazing that it took off like it did."

For more information on STARS, click here. To contact STARS directly, email the student organization at: OHIOUSTARS@gmail.com.