When Evan Fougere, a proctor at Tibbits Hall, decided to start a trend of spreading good deeds at the University of New Brunswick, he had no idea it would take off to the extent that it has.
It was Fougere who, on Feb. 3, brought the global fad of random act of kindness nominations, or RAKnominations, to UNB with his own version – UNBnominations. The hashtag has since taken to social networks in a way that rivals the ubiquitous #strikelife from earlier in the year.
The trend, which has students posting videos on Facebook of themselves doing good deeds, continues to grow – especially in the residence community. Its popularity came as somewhat of a surprise to Fougere.
“It’s been pretty crazy actually. I think my video had over 100 likes and shares and if you scroll through the hashtag on your phone, a lot of people around campus, especially the residence community, have done it,” he said.
Fougere said the idea came to him as a way to bring something positive to campus after the weeks of worrying about the strike, and it grew from there.
His initial act of taking out the garbage of residents on his floor has expanded to a host of inventive, kind initiatives around campus. These include students paying for the coffee of others at Tim Hortons, sharing baked goods and posting positive messages around the campus, among others.
Taylor Coady, a proctor at Bridges House, was among the first to receive a nomination. He said he was happy to see the nominations spread from what was initially a project among proctors to a campus-wide movement.
“I had hoped that it would grow as much as it has,” he said. “I did not expect it to; I definitely did not expect to still be seeing it pop up every now and then.”
Krysta Skentelbery, coordinator at UNB’s Residential Life has also been following the UNBnominations. She said that she was not surprised by the trend’s popularity.
“I was thrilled to see the random act of kindness nominations from UNB students circulating on social media,” said Skentelbery.
“I think that most students enjoy the videos. Because these nominations got a big push in residence by residence proctors, a large number of the videos feature residence students. I think it’s great timing; RAKnominations are a bit of sunshine in the otherwise dreary month of February.”
The concept of RAKnominations began as a spin off the highly popular drinking challenge called neknominations which has been dominating social media and raising safety concerns.
Ben Whitney, president of UNB’s Student Union, received a UNBnomination and used it to help out at Fredericton’s community kitchen. He said he was glad to take part in something which demonstrated that students are interested in more than just chugging beer.
“I think it’s a good way to put a positive spin on something and take a negative social media trend and turn it into something that can actually be used as a force for good,” he said.
Although the UNBnominations have been making the rounds for over two weeks, the fad shows no sign of slowing down as long as there’s someone willing to spread some kindness. It is still proving that a small gesture can make a difference.
“I think it really affect students by showing that when a person decides to do something different, it can catch on,” Coady said.