In the fall of 2019, I took a New Media Technologies class. The main project for the class involved all 53 students working together on a social media campaign – we were assigned the prompt “replace Silent Sam.”
For those not familiar, Silent Sam was a confederate monument in McCorkle Place at UNC-Chapel Hill that was torn down at the beginning of the 2018 school year by protestors. It was a source of incredible pain, frustration, and division on the campus.
The first step of starting the campaign was electing a leader from the class – I competed against two of my classmates and ended up being chosen for leader. As leader of the campaign, I was involved in nearly every aspect and had to make decisions regarding the general concept, the branding, and the direction of the campaign.
During the first few week, this translated to brainstorming with everyone in the class (who had split into different teams – Creative, Video, Communications, Social Media, and Strategy) to come up with the overarching concept. After talking with classmates and professors familiar with the issue, we came up with the concept of a series of arches – one representing each century of Carolina’s history, depicting important historical moments from those times and acknowledging our history in a more honest, less whitewashed way. In addition to this, we wanted to highlight the actions of current students, especially students of color, as one of the most frequent responses we received from our surveying was that students felt their impact as individuals on the Carolina community was minimal.
After the general concept had been ironed out, I moved on to working with each team. I helped strategy conduct surveys, I helped communications connect with relevant student organizations on campus, I helped video record our official launch video, and I helped social media run the social media platforms and look at analytics. More than anything though, I worked with the creative team.
As a designer, I dove headfirst into the opportunity to design inspired, high-quality graphics relevant to the campaign. At the end of the month, I’d designed approximately half of our graphics as a campaign, and handled the design of the campaign website as well. The experience was important to me for so many reasons – I got the opportunity to lead 53 other students in creating a full-fledged media campaign which generated over 500,000 impressions online and engaged with over 18,000 unique individuals.
Our proposal has yet to be submitted to the university given the complicated history and legal yellow tape surrounding the area where Silent Sam once stood. Although there’s still work to be done, I’m proud of pouring myself into such an intense project and trying to make a positive change on campus – if not by changing McCorkle Place, by highlighting all the excellent students and everything they do to give back to the community.