The student-run campaign is the result of a partnership between Duke’s LGBTQ student group Blue Devils United and the student-led speech awareness campaign “Think Before You Talk.” We’ll guess that “Watch What You Say” was considered too confrontational. The posters feature students serving as models for the words and phrases that they hope that their fellow students will learn to erase from their vocabulary such as “Bitch,” “That’s so gay,” “Man up” and others. The group featured the posters prominently on their Facebook page, and also started putting them up around the campus. The students told the campus newspaper The Duke Chronicle that their hope is to get their fellow students to “focus on more sophisticated language usage and to highlight things that we might not normally expect to alienate LGBTQ individuals but in reality can do a lot of damage.”
As sophomore Daniel Kort tells the Chronicle…
“We wanted to not just say that it’s not OK to use these words, but also to provide some form of justification. We also didn’t want it to come off as ‘People shouldn’t say this’ but instead to profile people saying ‘In my personal endeavors, I don’t say this.'”
We’re all for improving a person’s vocabulary, and maybe giving them a more sophisticated choice of words that don’t unnecessarily demean an unintended target. We also can’t help but notice that this campaign is still called “You Don’t Say” instead of “We Don’t Say.” That’s kind of problematic. Above all, though, we’ll note that it’s not a bad idea for college students to pay more attention to the words that come flying out of their mouths–especially in a setting where speech-debilitating intoxicants and drunken keggers can make that a real challenge.