Challenging Diversity at UVA campaign : Showing Diversity in Viral Way

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Students at the University of Virginia are showing their diversity by sharing very personal stories in a viral way. The Challenging Diversity at UVA campaign is documenting those experiences with photos for a Tumblr blog and on social media with #WeAreAllUVA.

People around UVA are sharing their stories on a whiteboard with an erasable marker. The students behind this project hope it makes the university's administration pay attention and create a more inclusive UVA.

Leangelo Acuna doesn't have to think long before making his statement. “Just because I have a lot of friends of my ethnicity, it doesn't mean I’m racist,” he stated.

The second-year student shares his experience on a whiteboard preserved in a picture for the Challenging Diversity at UVA campaign.  “Obviously, there's a lot of diversity on grounds, but that's more in terms of numbers and not necessarily the interaction between those communities,” he stated.

Anna-Sofia Olesen Yurtaslan, Augustina Mensa-Kwao, and Ashley Blackwell are the students behind the campaign. They're collecting powerful personal stories from students, faculty, and even a homeless man on the corner.

“I wanted to do this campaign in order to allow students whose voices are unheard to understand that other people share their experiences and to empower them,” Mensa-Kwao stated.

“Kind of walk in somebody else's shoes but for a very brief moment. Hopefully that means it will change how people interact with others and make people think critically before they act and speak,” Olesen Yurtaslan said.

The campaign is already creating a conversation on social media.

Mensa-Kwao said, “#WeAreAllUVA. I'm just so grateful that people are confident enough to tell their stories.”

Acuna hopes his writing reminds the UVA community of the impact of a few racist words, “it's an issue here at UVA and it needs to be addressed.”

The photo shoots are happening all over grounds this week.  The students are also encouraging people around Charlottesville to share their experiences with UVA. 
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