OU student organization hosts event

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Dovid Roetter, president of the OU Jewish Student Organization, at the anti-bullying event with a superhero

As college students across the country were feeling threatened by the results of the 2016 presidential election, students at Oakland University were putting the final additions on a semester-long project to host an Anti-Bullying Awareness Day on campus.

Members of the Jewish Student Organization (JSO), OU Catholic Student Society, Students For Israel, Students Toward Understanding Disabilities (STUD), Hillel of Metro Detroit and the Center for Religious Understanding began planning the event together last year. They also worked with the school’s Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development (CSA).

As president of the JSO, I visited all the booths at last fall’s Student Organizational Fair and passed out invitations to co-host an anti-bullying day in November. Although many groups expressed interest, five organizations committed to be co-sponsors.

The co-hosting groups reached out to WXOU, the college’s radio station, for an event DJ, and the Oakland Post, the college’s weekly newspaper, for an ad to help promote the event. CSA Director Jean-Ann Miller worked with us to have all the proper paperwork and necessary speakers.

STUD President Tia Falzarano created an Anti-Bullying Jeopardy game for the guests to win prizes.“Not only do players have a potential of winning prizes, but they also will gain knowledge and awareness of different cultures, races, etc.,” she said.

“How does spreading awareness about religions and disabilities correlate with bullying? Bullies tend to pick on people who are different from them. Educating players about these differences will help them understand the differences and that all people are equal regardless of their religion, race, etc.”

The event was held on Nov. 28 last year. At the sign-in table, there was free literature about bullying and how to prevent it, along with dozens of “Keep Smiling” cards reminding students of the value of a smile and importance of showing gratitude. The tables inside had flyers and lists of various help hotlines students could use, if needed.

Inside the decorated room, there was space for dancing, a buffet and a giant tic-tac-toe game created on the floor.

With about 80 students at the event’s peak, students quickly began to play games together, laugh, dance and simply have a great time.

After I welcomed people to the event, Falzarano spoke for a few minutes about how one of the biggest issues with today’s society is bullying, largely due to a lack of education. She stressed that it is never the victim’s fault.

“What comes off as weird or strange to someone is completely normal to a person with a specific religion, disability and/or culture,” she said. “An important part of anti-bullying awareness is to inform others of differences.”

We did our best to ensure that OU students would feel safe and bully-free on the campus we are so proud to be a part of.

Dovid Roetter is a junior at Oakland University. He lives in Oak Park and is the president of the OU Jewish Student Organization.

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