‘Throw Light UNI’ illuminates campus positivity


Columnist Baxter reflects on positive vibes that “Throw Light UNI” campaign is creating on campus.

NICOLE BAXTER, Opinion Columnist

Have you ever walked by someone and wanted to say hi, but decided not to? I think the majority of us have been in a situation where we wanted to be friendly to the stranger walking past us, but instead remained silent and diverted eye contact.

It is all too common to ignore the hundreds of people we see every day, but why? Why is it that we look away, look down or look past people as they approach us? Are we afraid of them, too cool or just too busy daydreaming to notice another human being?

As someone who makes an effort to say hello to those who I encounter throughout my day, I can say from much experience that people are extremely unwilling to acknowledge me as I walk past them. I used to take it personally, asking myself “Why don’t people look at me and say hi, what’s wrong with me?” After a while of questioning myself, I would then think, “What’s their problem?” and still I could not find an answer. It wasn’t until I merged the two questions that I then found my answer. It’s not a matter of what is wrong with me or them, it is humanity.

Humans are vulnerable to one another. We fear being judged and demeaned by others and in response to that fear, we keep to ourselves. By doing that, we establish a barrier that cannot be broken unless we willingly give into their stare.

Greeting someone is not about belittling them or asserting dominance over them, it is simply an act of kindness that society has deemed awkward and uncomfortable. If all of us could see that smiling or waving at a person we don’t know is just a nice thing to do, we could make our campus and community a better and more affable place to be.

You may have noticed the slips of paper sitting in bowls at various locations around campus and if you have taken the time to stop and read about it, the bowls are filled with social dares to promote exactly what I have been talking about: Friendliness.

The movement is called Throw Light UNI and it is all about creating a closer community on campus by impacting someone’s day in a positive way. Their slogan is, “Freedom inspires freedom. Be fearless. Shine Brightly.”

The freedom to burst through your fears of being judged by just saying hello will change your life and the lives of those around you in immeasurable ways. Think about how discouraging it is to be ignored. You don’t want people to treat you as if you were invisible, and believe me, the feeling is certainly mutual.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should address every single person you see when you are walking to class at 8 a.m., but if you do happen to look up from your phone and make eye contact with somebody, smile! It’s easy and honestly it’s refreshing to be amiable. It doesn’t take an outgoing person to acknowledge someone with salutations. For some reason we all have this idea in our heads that it is creepy to look at other people or they might get the wrong idea if we glance at them.

When you do get the courage to look someone in the eyes and greet them, do it with full confidence. Know that even if you are ignored, it’s okay, you tried and maybe that person will contemplate your act of kindness and reflect the same effort upon someone else.

If you want people to be friendly to you, you must do the same, even if that means doing it first. So next time you see a neighbor you haven’t met or a familiar face, consider passing on a smile or a nod, it will go a long way!