UMN Campus Climate launches “We All Belong Here” campaign

Posters with messages like ‘Strive to be inclusive’ arrive on campus.

Samir Ferdowsi

Days after President Donald Trump signed his travel ban, maroon and gold posters emblazoned with messages like, “Our differences drive our greatness,” cropped up around the University of Minnesota’s campus.

The posters are part of the University’s “We All Belong Here” campaign, which launched Jan. 30 but had been in the works months prior, said Ann Freeman, director of Campus Climate.

Staff members from Bias Response and Referral Network and Campus Climate got the idea for the posters after they saw students concerned about Trump’s immigrant policy proposals and rhetoric during the election, she said.

“We wanted to create a campaign that was positive and expressed the University’s value of respect, inclusion and belonging,” Freeman said. “Post-election, we saw an increase in vandalism and graffiti, and so it was really important to develop a campaign that really enforced our values of respect.”

Many students have welcomed the campaign.

“To me, it wasn’t so much political, but it was just the university taking a stance that no matter what’s going on everyone will be welcome here,” said public health and nutrition graduate student, Megan Radamaker. “We all belong here. We’re here to work together. We’re all here for the same reasons as college students.”

International students say they feel a sense of community and support on campus — something that has been wavering since the election season.

“For international students, there are always insecurities and uncertainty about the future, and that affects people … and when there is a sudden action by the government, it creates even more uncertainty and fear,” said evaluation studies Ph.D. candidate, Satlaj Dighe. “To me, the campaign means the University cares and wants to continue to support diversity on campus.”

Both Dighe and Radamaker said they wish to see continued solidarity for any students affected by the recent ban.

Schools across the country have launched similar campaigns or have avowed themselves as sanctuary campuses — which pledge to protect undocumented students.

“We’re raised to respect one another, and it’s just kind of mind boggling to me as adults we get caught up in politics and our opinions,” Radamaker said. “We lose sight of just genuinely respecting one another, and I think simple messages like [the posters] get people thinking back to childhood, the golden rule and the most important thing — we are all human.”