‘It Gets Better’ comes to STU, UNB

Kyle Ireland, Ashley Stuart and Mostafa Shaker have helped put together an 'It Gets Better' campaign at STU and UNB. (Jordan MacDonald/AQ)

Some UNB proctors have decided to bring the It Gets Better Campaign to St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick.

The popular online campaign, which began two years ago on YouTube by Dan Savage, offers support for youth and teens bullied for their sexual orientation.

It includes video testimonials by high-profile people like Google or Apple employees, who assure teens that things will get better someday.

Mostafa “Shakey” Shaker, a UNB proctor, is the one who had the idea of bringing it to Fredericton.

“I approached mostly my friends…and I just started asking them what…they [thought] about it. If they think whether we can do it,” said Shaker.

“And from there we started gathering up other people, we have seven people on the organizing team.”

From there he went to speak to the students’ unions on both campuses and Spectrum, a LGBT group on campus. The support, said Ashley Stuart, a member of the organizing team, has been “overwhelming.”

And now, two years after its first release on YouTube, Shaker thinks it’s time for it to not only get better after school, but it can get better at university too.

Kyle Ireland was a student who agreed to be part of the project. He said even the discreet amount of bullying that occurred in grade school vanished entirely when he got to university.

“A few people are homophobic, but they don’t even tell you. They just pretty much shut their mouths and deal with it,” said Ireland.

“They’re just like ‘Oh, yeah. Kyle’s gay, whatever.’ Walk on by me in the hallway, no one cares.”

The campaign ended up gathering 15 testimonials, including Ireland’s. Some came in to be interviewed, others preferred to respond via email.

“We got a huge response. I would have never imagined that so many people would come forward and tell us their stories,” said Shaker.

“[We got] very intense, very touching things,” Stuart added.

The video is being released on Wednesday, after a two-day promotional period. It will have Ireland playing the average high school student.

“I look younger, high-school age,” he said.

It’s going to be released on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

“We’re hoping that social media does its job,” said Stuart.

“We really want it to get out there for people especially around Canada to see it. And then North America.”

Ireland said it’s all about the ripple effect.

“I have 700 Facebook friends, and I know my Facebook friends all have roughly 700 Facebook friends. And all their friends have 700 Facebook friends. So it just goes out,” he said.

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