PRO:

I am a sucker for sweet talk. 

A compliment, positive reinforcement or words of affirmation is all it takes to make my day.

When the kind cursive words encouraging Zags that “You are enough” or “It’s okay to fail” began gracing buildings across Gonzaga’s campus, I found myself smiling more and stressing less. 

In the fast-paced, over-involved lives of GU students, its the little things that can make the largest difference. 

According to the Office of Health Promotion (OHP)’s “State of the Class 2019” survey 15.5 students in an average GU classroom of 24 students feel overwhelmed at least once every two weeks, 17.5 feel very sad during the course of an academic year and 3.5 seriously consider suicide at least once during the academic year. 

With these statistics as evidence, it would be reasonable to conclude that at one time or another, most of us could use a pick-me-up. 

Sure, it would be ideal if as students we provided one another with the morale-boosting inspiration that our peers crave, but naturally we are all absorbed in the routines of everyday life. 

That is where OHP comes in. While it would be implausible for anyone to provide affirmation to GU’s more than 5,000 undergrads, the office recognized the staggering population of students grappling with the stresses of daily life and took action. 

By installing the stickers across campus, no Zag can go a day without receiving reinforcement that they belong, they matter and they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to. 

It is easy to forget that each of us is here for a reason and OHP is reminding students of just that with the simple, yet tasteful stickers. 

The campaign to brighten days may not be for you, that is more than fine, but if that’s the case, then you likely aren’t the intended audience. 

Students at GU are struggling and while we don’t talk about it enough, it’s real and it takes a toll on many of us. For some students, all it may take to keep powering forward is the words of kindness gracing the door in front of them

CON:

I can’t believe that signage across campus has provoked such a visceral anger unlike no other in myself, but if I see another decal telling me that “it’s okay to fail,” I’m going to lose it. 

Supposedly “positive” decals seemingly appeared out of thin air across campus a couple weeks ago, peppered across the campus windows and doors, saying things along the line of “you are enough,” “look how far you’ve come,” “we love you” and the real kicker “It’s okay to fail.” 

When I first saw these decals, I was walking out of College Hall close to midnight, tired and exhausted by the idea that I was heading home to continue to work on more homework and then I was greeted at the door with “It’s okay to fail” and I felt a rush of heat rise to my cheeks. 

Honestly, seeing the decal, I couldn’t help but think: Was this sticker mocking me?

Choosing not to let a decal frustrate me, I left the building that night and brushed it off. 

That was until I started seeing these sticker decals everywhere I went, on my way to class, in the Career Center, from the dorms to the library, no where was  safe from fake positivity, telling me that I’m enough or to look how far I’ve come. 

The rage for these decals stem from two places, the quasi-positivity and the mocking nature of the phrase. 

Firstly, these signs don’t do anything for the mental health of students, I don’t look at these phrases and suddenly feel my stress lessen and my grades raise.

These signs are not going to cure anyone’s anxiety about their grades, instead they have been prime mocking material on student’s Snapchat stories. 

Secondly, these have such a condescending tone to them. 

Imagine leaving Foley Library at the 2 a.m. cut off, after hours of homework completed and studying for a major exam you have the next day and seeing a bright and cheery yellow sign saying, “you’re doing great,” just add a sweetie to the end of it if you’re going to be that patronizing. 

Signs about positivity won’t work on a campus deep into the school year already made cynical by the past six weeks of class and brutal midterms.

Ian Davis-Leonard is the managing editor. Follow him on Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Mila Yoch is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @Minacurls. 

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