My Love Letter to College Freshman by Michael Goodman

As New Student Orientation sweeps away the attention of many an educator, the CSJE blog would like to share/re-blog a post from one of our past contributors who reminds us of the exciting and transformational experiences that lay ahead for so many new college students. Enjoy, good luck and breathe!

<3 the CSJE blog.


I came across a photo of Old North this morning, posted by my beloved alma mater, the University of Central Oklahoma. Old North is the oldest building constructed for higher education in the state of Oklahoma (Oklahoma-territory back then, if my Tour Guide roots are serving me correctly), and just so happens to be a building I walked by for four of the best years of my life.

I sat at my desk for a few minutes and just stared at my screen. In that one minute of reflection (I do this a lot, force myself to be still, quiet, and just be), many college memories flashed before my eyes. Specifically, my first day of college, ten years ago from this very day. Ten years is a long time. In ten years I have seen many friends lose parents, lose their own lives, develop new families (sometimes even for a second attempt), and change and grow multiple careers.

My first class of my freshman year (ten years ago from today) was a class titled, “Lessons in Leadership.” On a leadership scholarship (yes, those exist), I, along with 25 of my freshman-peers, was required to take a leadership class with the President of the University. I walked in, in what I am pretty sure was khakis and a sweater vest, books in hand, and headed for the front row. I remember an upper-classman in the same scholarship program joke with me, “Looks like you’re ready to teach this class.” I always did dress beyond my years, which is quite comical because now it’s like a winning lottery ticket to see me in a tie, let alone a suit. But, in that moment, I started college. It began. And, as many seniors are reflecting today, I would probably, if offered, go back to that very moment if presented the chance.

In lieu of rewinding time, I have summed up my thoughts in this note to those starting college today, or soon for others:

To those starting college today (or insert whichever day makes for, “the big day”),

To those privileged individuals who have the opportunity to attend college, I challenge you this: acknowledge your privilege. You are entering the world of scholars, leaders, world-changers, almost-professional athletes, researchers, and other folk who generally just want to learn, know, acquire, and be more. You are one of these folk. You are more.

As you select and attend classes, navigate your social balance, and re/consider new and old friendships, I challenge you to take care of your college. Show up for class. Invest in class. Show up for non-class. Get involved, be active, and leave a print – a positive impact. Look around and listen. Challenge yourself to stop making assumptions and give others a chance – give yourself a chance. Free yourself, and free your mind. Do something unconventional.

As you learn more about yourself and your newly established freedoms, be mindful of the world outside of your intercollegiate-bubble. Be curious. Be adventurous. Take care of yourself, and take care of others. Take care of your campus. Show up. Pick up. Fail. Know that “high school you” won’t cut it in higher education. You have to be better, do better, and aim better. But, fail. And learn. Grow, always.

When you look ahead, remember that, at some point, you will soon be looking back. Be proud of what you see in that rear-view mirror. Create the outcome you hope most to achieve. Believe in yourself, your surroundings, and “your people.” Invest in your people. Invest in yourself. Education is a powerful thing, and our privilege allows this huge opportunity of knowledge and future-success. Do not take this for granted. Now, go. Do. Be.

Most sincerely,

Washed-Up Alum

Good vibes and good love to all those starting a new journey today, and/or soon. Take a mental picture, frame it, love it.

In bronze and blue,



(Originally posted at on August 18, 2014)

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Five Tips for Raising Social Justice Awareness Via Online Social Media Hashtags by Jenny Korn

An initial step to bring justice to an issue is to draw attention to the issue.  In this blog, I focus on raising social awareness in public media campaigns that utilize online hashtags.  Drawing from experiential learning and past research, I provide five tips for social justice educators to use hashtags for their own causes.

Conduct a hashtag review

            Because hashtags have been popular in use now for nearly a decade, performing due diligence on potential hashtags is necessary.  When choosing a hashtag to promote a cause,  search for that hashtag to check how it was used previously.  The search should be conducted not only in Twitter (which has a built-in search service), but also in larger online searches (using Yahoo or Google) to see how the media have covered the hashtag, if at all.  The search results might show that a hashtag was used last over a year or two ago, which means it is up for grab to revive as your own.  Other times, individuals prefer creating a new hashtag with no history at all.  For example, by examining hashtags similar to ones you might want to use, you might be inspired to come up with a clever interpretation on an existing hashtag to make your own hashtag.  Some activists find that a desired hashtag is in use already, so they then join that existing conversation online; in those cases, people may attempt to hijack the hashtag, filling the hashtag stream with their own perspective on an issue.  Whatever hashtag you choose, you will now be aware of other hashtags that might be like yours.

Create a concise hashtag

            After a review of hashtags has occurred, you are informed and ready to decide to create a hashtag.  Because the length of tweets is limited, the shorter the hashtag, the more likely other online users will include the hashtag in their posts.  To make combinations of words easier to read within a hashtag, I recommend using CamelCase, in which the first letter of each word is capitalized while the rest of the word is in lowercase: #ThisIsAnExampleOfCamelCase.  Choosing a hashtag that states an action, like #RejectProp9, communicates the stance and cause efficiently and effectively.  Using abbreviations is common in hashtags, and even if the abbreviation is not widely known, the context of the hashtag in relation to your entire post should provide enough information for the reader to glean the meaning. 

Append the hashtag to pertinent information

            While enthusiasm about a hashtag has many individuals working to increase the quantity of the use of a specific hashtag, quality still counts.  This advice goes to individuals that may be using a personal online account instead of a professional one that is dedicated only to posts about social justice.  Accounts attached to organizations, like Facebook pages and official Twitter usernames, should already be producing content related to social activism to which a hashtag addition makes sense.  Individual users may be so eager to use the hashtag that they choose to append the hashtag to every post, regardless of its pertinence to the actual cause.  Savvy online readers will notice whether the hashtag is thriving or dying.  More is fine, as long as the online post + specific hashtag = still issue-oriented.  When in doubt, if you’ve followed the above advice about creating an action-based hashtag, you can just post the hashtag by itself, if you’re trying to remind the public about your issue, e.g., #RejectProp9. 

Use the hashtag consistently across online social media

            Once the hashtag and content have been vetted for usability and pertinence, it is time to introduce the hashtag to as many online social media outlets for which you have the time.  At the minimum, Twitter is a necessary, important place for bringing attention to your issue.  Facebook too allows for hashtags, and if you click on the hashtag within Facebook, you will be taken to another page full of other Facebook posts by users that publish publicly and that have utilized that hashtag too.  Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr are all popular social media sites whose users are accustomed to hashtags.  FourSquare is a location-based social media site that also utilizes hashtags, but again, remember to make the FourSquare check-in pertinent to your issue, e.g., checking in to a news office where you’ll be promoting your activism.  LinkedIn is a social media site that emphasizes professional, as opposed to personal, connections.  Some (most?) social justice educators believe that activism should not be confined only to the personal, so if you’re of like mind, feel free to attach your hashtag to your LinkedIn posts too.  The point here is to remember that multiple sites exist for your hashtag usage; utilize the ones where you are hanging out already, and create accounts where you want an online, public presence about your issue to be known. 

Blog about the hashtag (or assign it as homework)

            Blogging has been around longer than the hashtag, and that means many blog editors are hungry for content for their sites.  Volunteer to write about your cause on blogs that are likely to be read by others in related activism.  If you don’t have time to blog, consider assigning blogs as an assignment for the populations with which you work (if appropriate).  Each individual that participates in the assignment will receive a publication to add to the person’s résumé.  Assignments could elaborate upon each of the aforementioned points above, including how the hashtag was chosen, how the hashtag has been appended to specific content, and how the hashtag has been picked up by local and national news media and used across Facebook, Twitter, and other online social media sites (each news media outlet and site would be a different blog).  Each blog, whether written by you or others, provides additional awareness to your cause and related action-oriented hashtag.

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