• Anna Paula Goncalves

Voice It.

Universiteit Gent x mortierbrigade


Here's one way to speak up:


What if you were in a situation where you had someone spewing out false statements? You could listen and speak out, or listen and be silent. But it's a safe assumption to say you'd probably speak out, right? A simple one on one conversation can't be AS intimidating... Well, what if you were one of several people in a room, being taught by someone who made several false statements? Would you react and speak up, then? That's what we see Universiteit Gent challenge in this social experiment, with the help of Brussels based agency, mortierbrigade.



This is why I'm a fan:


When the intention behind a brand/marketing strategy translates into: "be inspired to do what's right."? Yes, I'll become a fan. This social experiment, though, also brought me back to a moment I personally experienced as a college student at Bentley University.


It was my last year when I came face-to-face with a professor who had her "own" views, outside of what she was supposed to be teaching. And considering she was a Tenure professor (also known as: a professor with a permanent contract, that "cannot be fired" under just any circumstance -- or at least that's the verbiage this professor in particular used during teacher evaluation at the end of the semester). Her exact words? "Write whatever you want; I can't get fired anyway." Power trip much?


Anyway, back to the 'face-to-face moment.' It's one thing to state your opinion, and it's another to impose your opinions as facts. Well, needless to say, this professor had her ways of displaying little to no regard to people... But yes, I spoke up in a class. It turned out to be a back and forth argument between us. This, as a result, could have either a) deterred me from ever speaking up again because opposing power is never welcomed, appreciated or tolerated OR b) drive me to always speak up. I can say that my first thought after leaving that classroom revolved around: "Will she fail me for this?". It was a real fear within me; a justifiable fear given her rank and my lack of a rank.


Unfortunately, unlike this social experiment, there are repercussions for speaking up. It's scary to do it, more so in a packed room as that seems to be more of a behavior that opposes or defies the 'obvious' authority in the room -- and I'm glad that was proven, here. But speaking up isn't always a fear of the present moment, so much as it is a premature fear for what's to come. Basically: What will happen from speaking up.


No, I didn't get a poor grade after the above incident. I guess, she knew I'd fight that too? Or maybe she was "over" the fact that I challenged her? In a sense that, it didn't quite bother her as much as she had lead on during our back and forth during class? I also didn't care that she made it seem as though my comments )everyone's comments) on that teacher evaluation form at the end of the semester, also didn't matter. I voiced it there, too. My hope was that everyone did the same and wrote down what they needed to voice regardless of her 'power driven' statement that "it didn't matter".


I'll end this blog post with this:


Empowered people can challenge people in power. So, I'd love to see Universiteit Gent take it a step further with experimenting by considering this: How about experimenting with those in power next time? Yes, the professors... A bigger challenge I'd assume. But how about, an experiment that can bring out humility so that the power trip that is within them, can be 'checked' in a powerful way?


Food for thought.


Sources: Universiteit Gent Website

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