U Of MN Ads Claim Inclusiveness, Students Disagree

Hana Worku-U of MN Student Activist

Ads are meant to be alluring. Who hasn’t been pulled in by an ad that promised more than it delivered? When that happens, you always have the option of taking the product back. But it’s hard to return a college experience.

So instead of taking it back, University of Minnesota students are fighting back with their own ads. They are protesting how their school’s $1 million advertising budget is used. They claim that the school’s advertising showcases students of color, but that those images are only superficial. Too often the U is unwilling to support students of color. For example, the University is planning to shut down the student cultural center.

The “Whose University” campaign, or WhoseU for short, is a direct challenge to the university’s advertising campaign that uses students of color as marketing tools in “superficial images of diversity and education,” according to media activist and campaign organizer Hana Worku.

Worku spoke recently at the National Conference for Media Reform about the WhoseU campaign and says the campaign began as a way to seek “equal access and resources for disenfranchised groups in our public education system.” She says that the WhoseU propaganda lets people know what the university’s policy ideas actually mean to students and others at the university.

They have no budget, but that hasn’t stopped their guerilla-style interviews and parody advertisements from reaching the eyes and ears of university officials.

Wednesday, WhoseU organizers, will host a day-long series of events all around the campus, including a teach-in, panel discussion, and performance event around issues The campaign has taken advantage of social media channels and the organizers actively using Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to tell their stories.

The campaign, which includes a film project, will began working on a documentary about the university’s priorities to be released in the fall.

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