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March 13, 2014

Photo from tumblr. 

#itooamharvard.

If you search the hashtag on the web you'll get a whole slew of responses -- from articles in the Washington Post and Boston Globe, to a Buzzfeed link with over a million views.

The social media campaign, born from an independent study project on minorities' experiences as part of the Harvard community, has gone viral and reflects frustrations with stereotypes by students of all races.

It also comes on the heels of a recent rash of racial incidents on college campuses across the country -- at Ole Miss, to the University of Michigan.

The campaign is self-described on it's tumblr page:

A photo campaign highlighting the faces and voices of black students at Harvard College. Our voices often go unheard on this campus, our experiences are devalued, our presence is questioned-- this project is our way of speaking back, of claiming this campus, of standing up to say: We are here. This place is ours. We, TOO, are Harvard.

Photo from tumblr. 

And Harvard isn't the only place such trends are taking hold. Already you can find hashtags of #itooamcambridge, #itooamoxford, #itooamIOWA and, from last fall, #BBUM (Being Black at University of Michigan).

Annie Murphy Paul with KQED in California wrote recently about the use of minorities in college public relations publications.

It’s a good thing that our colleges and universities are no longer treating minorities as if they were invisible, at least in the marketing sphere. And to the extent that brochures and viewbooks are aspirational documents, the inclusion of minorities’ images may tell a hopeful story of what institutions wish to become, even if they’re not there yet. But making sure that minority group members feel a genuine sense of belonging on campus will take far more than a handful of photos.

On Campus has previously looked at the role race plays in education in our country. We talked with Michele Stephenson, the filmmaker who produced 'American Promise,' which followed two middle-class African-American boys from the time they enter kindergarten in one of the country’s most elite private schools through high school graduation.

Now that the conversation has started, what do you think the next step should be?

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