Recently I was making my way from my dorm room to the lab so I could get to work and I passed by the SUB and saw a large gathering of students crouched around white t-shirts. Intrigued and curious, I stepped closer to see what was going on, and behold: It was De-Stereotype day at Florida Tech!
Florida Tech’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Active Minds, and the brothers of Pi Lambda Phi joined forces to present an awesome and creative event that brought students together to bring up common stereotypes and debunk them.
So, what’s the best way to bring college students together? Give them something for free of course. The group had a station set up outside of the SUB where they handed out free T-shirts that said “Stereotype Me” in the front and a rainbow of sharpie markers for students to write common stereotypes that are usually said about them, or unique qualities that set them apart from common stereotypes. Groups of twenty students at a time sat around the table, passing sharpie markers and talking about funny, insulting, and strange stereotypes that society has created.
I immediately decided I wanted to join the movement, so I grabbed a shirt and a pink sharpie and let loose! I began decorating my free shirt by writing “I’m a female in mechanical engineering, but I’m NOT a tomboy.” I wanted to also write an entire paragraph about how I love doing my nails (even though they’re always a disaster), I love wearing high heels and doing my hair, how I’m just as good of an engineer as the next guy in my classes, how I don’t expect special treatment as a girl in engineering, and I do expect people to think of me as an equal in my field. Unfortunately, I could not fit all of that on my medium-sized shirt. I did get to write that even though I’m Mexican (born and raised!), I do not have a barn, or a donkey, or eat tacos non-stop. I wrote how I adore math, but also love the arts. How to me, a triple integral will bring just as much excitement as playing my guitar. It was wonderful to step back and admire my shirt that basically screamed to the world “Yes, I am a walking contradiction and I adore every second of it!”
Talking to some of the other students that were also making shirts was a really fun bonding experience. There were stereotypes about being blonde, redhead, male, female, Jewish, Christian, smart, social, shy, tall, short… basically any and every stereotype that has ever existed. I really have to congratulate the people that put on this event for being able to create such a simple yet powerful event that let us de-stereotype each other in a healthy and fun way. Not to mention fashionable!