It still feels strange how some details are so vivid, and others still lost. I remember trying to remember—cautiously, anxiously, angrily—what happened in October of 2006. Head spinning, over and over I picked at the moments of a platonic date gone horribly wrong. I kept my secret close, convinced I wouldn’t be able to handle the unavoidable shame and humiliation. I questioned why I ignored the tightening knots in my gut over the course of that evening, shaming myself. Somehow, I should have known. These thoughts occupied my mind as I finished getting tested at UHS. As I left, I received a phone call, informing me my attacker was looking for me and made threats against my life. For three weeks I ended up isolated in a “safe house,”instructed not to inform anyone of where I was.
Eventually, the debilitating weight of enduring the aftermath of my assault was too much. I went to CAPS as suggested by police and an HIV test counselor at UHS. I found Dr. Laura Monschau easy to talk to, supportive, and trusting. She encouraged me to reach out to SAPAC for their additional support and advocacy. I found my advocate, Samara, to be just as genuine as Laura. I was impressed and felt so protected by their seamless coordination with each other and their steadfast reassurances that I would be okay. Together, they contacted my professors to make them aware of my situation. All of them were supportive and sensitive, easing the constant physical tension I held while bracing myself for any of the expected awkwardness or humiliation.
With the support of Laura and Samara, by February I finally told my family about everything. The news was devastating to them, which was one of the reasons I had avoided talking about it. However, the weight of enduring the assault and its aftermath alone was incomparably worse—and the thought of my isolation during this time was especially painful for them. Sharing my story with my advocates on campus and with my family enabled me to truly begin what would be a long journey of healing. I continued seeing a therapist for some time, though not always consistently. For quite a few years I struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,secondary depression, and was emotionally labile. At times, it negatively affected my friendships—particularly during the periods when I wasn’t consistently seeing a therapist.
To this day I have an exaggerated startle response and I’d be lying if I said I no longer often think of what happened to me. The difference is I have regained my sense of self and the recognition I am strong enough to continue living—and enjoy it. What happened to me is just that—something horrible that happened. My experiences with CAPS and SAPAC helped me understand I am not defined by those events. The months I struggled to survive alone, didn’t have to be. I can’t stress enough how important it is for other survivors to know they have such a loving and supportive community available to them. No one should ever shoulder such a destructive burden alone.
You can confidentially share information about your experience with the any of following resources:
or the 24/7 Crisis Line at 734-936-3333
Learn more about your rights and options by viewing our Sexual Misconduct Policy: myumi.ch/6Oq8
As February draws to a close, it’s time to review the most significant success stories of the past 29 days. From Valentine’s Day promotions and our two-year anniversary on Snapchat to collaborations with campus leaders in engineering and the arts, the #UMSocial team shared news and updates from all areas of campus.
We released the second installment of Navigating the Maize, a video series that aims to give audiences a sense of the rich variety of experiences on campus. In this episode, #UMSocial intern Peter Shultz returned as the UMich Try Guy, undertaking the challenging task of driving a Zamboni at Yost Ice Arena.
Ann Arbor is well known for its thriving arts and cultural scene, and we celebrated that tradition of artistic excellence with a promotional video, Arts & Culture at the University of Michigan. Coinciding with the launch of the new <a href=”http://arts.umich.edu/”>Arts & Culture website</a>, the video features interviews with campus leaders and stunning footage of performances, museum exhibits, and displays of public art.
Thousands of University of Michigan students met their significant others on the U-M campus, and Valentine’s Day gave us an opportunity to ask our followers to share their #UMichLoveStory. Capitalizing on the popularity of the “Follow Me” photo series that began on Instagram in 2013, we created a similar motion graphic that depicted a Michigan couple at the iconic engineering arch on Central Campus. Receiving 2,509 views and generating 12,697 impressions, this post was among our top-performing pieces of content of the month.
On February 15, we took the opportunity to observe both Presidents’ Day and Black History month by sharing the inspirational story of Druval Johnson, U-M’s first African-American class president. Johnson’s message fared well with our audience: the post received over 300 comments and reached an estimated social audience of more than 83,000 people.
This month saw two departmental takeovers on Instagram. First, we followed a team led by Michigan Engineering graduate Frank Sedlar, who uses social media data to map severe flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia. Next, we provided a behind-the-scenes look at an exhibit at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, which featured never-before-seen artifacts from Oplontis, a coastal Italian town that was destroyed by the same eruption that buried Pompeii.
Holiday content is a consistent crowd-pleaser. It’s also an opportunity to take some creative risks and experiment with presenting content in new and different ways. We used motion graphics to celebrate the Lunar New Year (or “Spring Festival,” as it’s known in China), and Valentine’s Day. Thanks to Instagram’s newly available “video views” metric, we learned that our Valentine’s Day motion graphic was viewed more than 19,000 times. We’re continually exploring ways to make content more engaging.
We continued to facilitate weekly Snapchat takeovers by our colleagues in the College of. Literature, Science, & the Arts. Every Tuesday, the LSA social team took us behind the scenes to look at a different LSA program, event, or initiative. Their stories—which included a talk by former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo about the value of the liberal arts and an exploration of the LSA linguistics program— continue to deliver unique perspectives on some of the fascinating things going on in the Michigan community.
February 26 marked the second anniversary of the launch of our ‘uofmichigan’ Snapchat account. To celebrate, we’re planning some surprises for the week after spring break, and we encourage our followers on campus to keep their eyes peeled.
Our Twitter presence, @UMich, serves as a space to facilitate community dialogue, and the monthly #UMichChat feature is one of the most effective avenues to start those conversations. This edition, which focused on Black History Month and U-M’s annual MLK symposium, was a prime example. On February 5, we brought together a panel of faculty and students for a discussion about some of the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus. Each participant provided a unique perspective into this critical issue and contributed to the conversation about the current state of diversity at U-M. As the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work continues, we’ll continue to keep our followers apprised of progress, and provide them with ways to share their opinions and ideas.
We continued to bring live events to our followers with the #UMichTalks lecture series. This month, we had the opportunity to feature several fascinating events as part of the continuing #UMichTalks lecture series. The Flint water crisis was a major national news story in February, and we live-tweeted a briefing covered a talk on entrepreneurship given by Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook. Since its inception, in 2015, #UMichTalks has become widely recognized throughout campus and utilized by dozens of individual departments. #UMichTalks will continue to offer relevant and timely content throughout the year.
With a number of new campaigns planned for the coming months, we look forward to continuing to engage with the community in innovative ways, extending our outreach across all channels.
This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, #UMSocial intern and Bachelor of Science in Information junior. #StaySocial with her on Instagram and Twitter: @sarahbarnitt
This month, Wolverines returned from spring break refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to end the semester on a high note. The pace at UMSocial quickly picked up as we attempted to capture the pulse of campus, celebrate our community’s achievements, and tell U-M’s story in new and exciting ways.
March is National Reading Month and we celebrated by featuring alumni who have gone on to achieve success as authors, publishers, poets, and playwrights. The number of literary classics penned by U-M alumni is truly remarkable: from Jumanji and Cheaper by the Dozen to A View From the Bridge, Wolverines have been exemplifying literary prowess for decades.
To honor these authors, we created a series of short videos and motion graphics overlaid with quotes directly from the author and the hashtag #NationalReadingMonth. This post, which celebrated 1972 graduate Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s classic The Polar Express, performed particularly well with our audience, receiving nearly 30,000 video views.
Oftentimes, the true power of social media is its power to bring small moments of joy into people’s lives. And sometimes, sometimes the simplest content is what resonates the most. This was certainly the case on March 27th, where we posted a user-submitted photo of their pet rabbit sporting a Michigan bow tie to celebrate the Easter holiday. While this photo was certainly adorable, we did not anticipate it to have the impact on our audience that it did. Receiving nearly 21,000 likes and generating 1,132,291 impressions, this was our highest-performing piece of the month, on any channel. This photo also gained considerable traction on Instagram, receiving nearly 4,000 likes and being re-posted by several followers’ accounts. “AmeliaBunelia”’s rise to social media stardom is a short, simple reminder of the importance of celebrating with your community.
This month’s #UMichChat featured the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and highlighted the specific ways that U-M is involved with urban renewal, neighborhood re-allocation, and architectural revitalization in Detroit. We brought together a panel of Taubman faculty along with notable professionals from Detroit’s blossoming arts and architecture scene. Our panel also included two U-M alumni who now work at the Detroit Land Bank, a public authority dedicated to restoring Detroit’s vacant and abandoned property to productive use.
The reach and engagement that this chat produced was considerable. In addition to our panel, over 20 guests chimed in, providing fascinating commentary on the impact of various urban planning initiatives.
Our Social Media Director and Senior Content Manager had the wonderful opportunity to attend South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, from March 11-14. U-M maintained a booth at the main expo center of the event and several U-M faculty members participated in panel discussions about technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Not only was our team able to explore the expo and discover the latest up and coming ideas and innovations, we also provided our audience with information about what was going on at the event. Throughout the weekend, we shared details about U-M’s presence at SXSW, linked to articles about featured exhibits, and encouraged our followers to join the conversation using #mgosxsw. Overall, SXSW was an invigorating, enlightening experience and our team was extremely grateful to be able to attend.
At U-M, student mental health is a critical yet often ignored issue. Thousands of students are suffering from mental illness every day, yet they are not receiving the support they need. Student-athletes are particularly at risk, given the rigor of their training, the societal pressure upon them to live up to specific ideals of how athletes should conduct themselves, and the stigma that is connected to help-seeking. At UMSocial we strive to create #ABrighterBlue and a campus community where all Wolverines feel supported and value. This month, we facilitated an extremely powerful Instagram Takeover to spread awareness about Athletes Connected, a collaborative effort between the U-M School of Public Health, Depression Center, and the Athletic Department to increase awareness about mental health issues, reduce the stigma of help-seeking, and connect student-athletes to mental health resources. We followed U-M senior wide-receiver Jehu Chessen as he recounted his experience grappling with his mental health, and how Athletes Connected help him access the resources he needed to improve his quality of life.
As a respected athlete and reputable student on our campus, Chessen was the perfect choice to serve as our Ambassador for Athletes Connected. Chessen’s content resounded extremely well with our audience, as many of our followers posted comments praising his bravery and sharing their own struggles with mental health. His last photo was a beautiful action shot of the Big House, with the powerful caption: “In a perfect world, mental health is viewed the same way that physical health is. If you hurt your knee or sprain your ankle, there’s no shame in going to someone for help. The same should apply to mental health. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious or worse, there should be no stigma in seeking help. Getting your knee taken care of isn’t a sign of weakness, and neither is taking care of your mind. Hopefully, as people are educated on the importance and prevalence of mental health issues on campuses, we can drop the stigma and break through reluctance to seek support and learn more.” This post received over 5,000 likes and dozens of supportive comments. As conversations about mental health go from the periphery to the mainstream, it is our hope students struggling will feel more and more comfortable seeking help rather than suffering in silence. We are so glad that we were able to find an engaging outlet to share the message of Athletes Connected: seeking help signals strength. No one needs to suffer alone.
Many students look forward to annual St. Patricks Day celebrations on campus, but these social gatherings are often accompanied by a considerable amount of risk. Therefore wanted to find a creative and effective way to share safety and wellness information with students. Following in the footsteps of our enormously successful Snapchat PSA we teamed up with the campus dept. of Safety and Security to share risk management tips with students. This story promoted best practices for remaining safe during the celebrations, as well as provided information medical amnesty and health resources.
This month marked a special birthday for UMSocial as we celebrated two years on Snapchat! Since our channel’s launch in 2014, UMSocial has been eager to use the platform to tell interesting, interactive stories, engage with our students, and support campus-wide indicatives. To thank our followers and increase our exposure on campus, we held a Snap-a-versary giveaway contest. To enter, followers had to send us a snap telling us why they love Snapchat. The lucky winner received the ‘Ultimate Snapchat Prize Pack’, consisting of an exclusive U-M snapchat sticker, an external battery to charge their phone, and a stylus. The contest has impressive reach; the winner was a diehard U-M fan all the way from California! We’re can’t wait to see what our third year on Snapchat has in store as we continue to push the envelope and explore new ways to reach our student body.
Wolverines of Ann Arbor Exhibit
On March 24th, the U-M Center for Campus Involvement brought Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton as part of their “Change the World” speaker series. In honor of the event, we created an exhibit that displayed over 60 images and narratives from our Wolverines of Ann Arbor series. We were able to display these stories in the lobby of the Power Center, where Stanton’s talk took place. We also provided live coverage of the event on both Snapchat and Twitter and encouraged people to join the conversation using the cross-platform hashtag #HONYatUMich. Stanton provided a truly inspiring talk about personal perseverance, authenticity in your work, and the importance of storytelling. We’re so grateful that we could take part in this event and recognize the impact that Stanton’s work has had on our own.
The semester may be coming to an end, but UMSocial is certainly not losing any momentum. We have exciting plans for the remainder of this academic year, so be sure to follow along! As always, #GoBlue and #StaySocial.
This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, #UMSocial intern and Bachelor of Science in Information junior. #StaySocial with her on Twitter and Instagram: @sarahbarnitt.