Why Roosevelt wears pink this October

by Jules Banks / Features Editor

The “RU Aware” board asks residents to stick pink ribbons onto it to honor those battling with breast cancer. Photo by Jules Banks. 

Residence Life has taken up the initiative to promote breast cancer awareness this October by creating a program that aims to attract both staff and student participation. The themed program, titled “On Wednesdays We Wear Pink,” encourages both staff and students to wear pink clothing to support the cause. 

The name was the brainchild of Abby Bautista, resident director for Residential Education, and is a reference to a popular line from the classic 2004 movie “Mean Girls.” Bautista chose the topic of this month’s “RU Aware Board” due to October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The board, which sits on the 14th floor of the Wabash Building behind the safety desk, rotates in topics monthly.

“The goal for this program was to educate residents, administrative staff, and other guests of the residence hall on topics that not only affect the Roosevelt community, but also the global community,” said Michél McBride, assistant director of Residence Life, about the “RU Aware” Board. “Since then, we’ve presented topics such as cyber bullying, Black (her)story, domestic violence awareness.”  

The board is what McBride describes as a “passive program,” and it encourages students and staff to participate with a simple activity. The prompt asks the passersby to share the names of people they know that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The names can be written down on pink ribbons provided and then posted onto the board. 

Nora Harstford, RA and a jazz contemporary music studies major, had a similar idea with her own board on Floor 31. Her theme also centers around breast cancer awareness. She said that the topic of breast cancer was particularly close to her heart due to her aunt being diagnosed many years ago.

“My aunt Kris had breast cancer a long time ago, I think I was 15 when she was diagnosed,” said Harstford. “For a minute there, we were really concerned. And she lives two hours away from my home, so I couldn’t see her all the time, and I didn’t know what was happening with her. She actually is super into crafts, and really helps me with my board and decorating ideas and gives me paper and stuff.”

Harstford said that her “In October We Wear Pink” board was in dedication to her aunt, who has since recovered from breast cancer.

Harstford also explained that both the boards that Residence Life decorate and the RA boards are a mix of information and creativity.

“I think with all of the boards that we have, it’s a way to first of all keep the Wabash community aware of different things going on,” Harstford said. “We have a board that has flyers for what’s happening this month, what’s going on. All the RAs have boards that convey some sort of information. It’s a way for us to connect with the residents on a more passive level, but it’s also a way to keep the Wabash building looking fresh and new.” 

Along with the RU Aware Board, the “On Wednesdays We Wear Pink” program was promoted with flyers distributed throughout the school. Leaders of the program took to social media as well as using physical resources to promote the program.

“We also utilized our social media pages,” said McBride. “We encourage Roosevelt community to view our recent posts.” Residence Life has promoted the program on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in an attempt at online outreach, with all of their platforms using the handle @RUResLife.

On Oct. 16, McBride and Bautista set up a photoshoot to, as McBride described it, “continue to display our support in the efforts of finding a cure for breast cancer.” Several RU Residence Life staff members, as well as RAs, stood by the board and were photographed both individually and as a group beside the board, often holding up the pink ribbons provided to them by the Residence Life office. Sariah Bolden, history and political science major, was one of the RAs in attendance.

“The meaning behind the ‘On Wednesdays We Wear Pink’ initiative by Res Life is to basically bring awareness to breast cancer and to give homage to people that have been diagnosed with breast cancer and who have died from breast cancer,” Bolden said. 

During the photoshoot, several Wabash residents stopped to write down the names of people they knew that had been diagnosed with breast cancer on a pink ribbon. They were all invited by the Residence Life staff to be involved with the photoshoot as well, and several posed beside the board while holding up their ribbons to get a polaroid taken of them. 

“Seeing students and staff be engaged in the program is inspiring,” said McBride. “It lets us know that they are appreciative of the information we share on the RU Aware Boards. It also encourages us to continue the initiative as the residential community is very receptive to it.” 

Bolden explained that the simple gesture of wearing pink could go a long way.

“It’s important to me because a lot of people have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and died from breast cancer, and it’s still kind of a thing that people don’t really want to talk about, when it should be something we should all be talking about,” said Bolden. “So just wearing simple pink brings up the conversation.”  

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