‘More Than Words 2.0’ brings discussion from camp to campus

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    The chair clattered as it was slammed on the ground. 

    Silence followed.

    The Frog Camp facilitators reminded students that it doesn’t matter if you say, “I was just kidding,” or “I didn’t mean it that way,” when you use a derogatory term toward someone. The words can hurt regardless, they said.

    This reminder is a part of More Than Words, a program at every Frog Camp where facilitators list words and names that might be used during a hate crime or bullying. The program brings awareness to the damage words can have on other people.

    “With a lot of what’s going on in the national media, it’s kind of a current topic with how words and actions create an atmosphere of inclusion or exclusion on campus,” said Trung Nguyen, the assistant director of the first-year experience.

    Now, TCU’s Student Development Services (SDS) wants to continue the discussion from camp by introducing More Than Words 2.0, said John Mark Day, the director of the first-year experience.

    The first annual More Than Words 2.0 was held in the Brown-Lupton University Union Chambers at 7:30 p.m. on April 15. The student-led discussion centered on students’ experiences on campus regarding hateful speech.

    “It’s something that happens every single day,” said Kurt Byers, a junior speech-language pathology major.

    An 8-member panel led the discussion at Wednesday’s event. The panel included Frog Camp facilitators, Orientation leaders and others with experience facilitating small groups, said Raylee Starnes, a junior psychology major and the executive director of Frog Camp.

    Starnes said the goal of Wednesday’s panel was to bring a variety of viewpoints together to discover ways to combat discriminatory words and actions on TCU’s campus.

    “Having students from all over campus involved in that conversation goes a lot further than having Frog Camp come up with an idea and hoping that the general population can kind of implement that,” Starnes said.

    Nguyen said that the purpose of More Than Words 2.0 is to talk about how TCU can ensure that every student’s voice matters and is heard and how students’ voices are not subdued by hurtful words.

    Frog Camp facilitators were encouraged to wear their purple Frog Camp shirts on Monday while practicing a vow of silence, except for when they attended classes and work. This symbolized the voices that had been taken away because of violence, hate crimes and bullying, Nguyen said.

    Raul Marez, a senior studio art major, said maintaining the vow of silence was difficult.

    “I like to talk,” Marez said. “People were freaking out thinking something was wrong with me.”

    Facilitators were given sheets of paper to hand to students who asked about the facilitators’ silence. The slips explained how each facilitator represented a specific person affected by a hate crime, Nguyen said. It also invited them to attend Wednesday’s discussion.

    During Wednesday’s More Than Words 2.0, students talked about small things they could do every day to make TCU’s campus more inclusive.

    “In this day in age, we are usually on our phones,” said Joseph Sanderson, a junior geography major. “I think if we were more present in our everyday lives, this campus would be a much better place.”

    Brandon Claridge, a sophomore psychology major, said that people might use derogatory words because of a “group mentality.”

    Marez agreed. He said students must stand up to people who use derogatory language, especially when it is a person’s friend.

    “To me, the most important line in the entire More Than Words is the line, ‘What will you do?’” Day said.