A group of RIT students are finalists in a national competition designed to challenge propaganda by extremist groups.
The competition is sponsored in part by the U.S. State Department as a way of countering hateful extremist rhetoric, by groups like ISIS and others, in various online sites and social media.
And a group of 17 RIT students, many of them marketing majors, is now one of three finalists in this competition which also includes a team from Azerbaijan and Brussels.
One of the students who helped create the campaign for the RIT students is Olivia Hauck, an advertising and public relations student from Irondequoit.
She says her group is working to make sure people understand the distinction between extremists and people who live peacefully while practicing their Muslim faith.
“People just don’t understand they see these things on the news and they automatically categorize all of them; it was kind of a bigger push for us to try and really bring this educational platform out there because we noticed a lot of people just don’t really understand the difference between Islam and extremism, and there’s a really large distinction there to be made.”
The slogan the RIT group uses is called "It's Time: Ex Out Extremism" and it's being promoted through Facebook and other venues. The students will go to Washington later this month to present their ideas.
Hauck says the federal government figured it was a good idea to get young people involved in a social media campaign designed to combat efforts by ISIS and other groups who want to recruit people to their cause.
“They want to see what we can create to help because it’s easier for 20 something year olds to reach out to our same demographic and reach them through social media and millennials are the most media savvy generation so it’s easy for us to create something, put it out there and really promote it.”
Hauck says the RIT students have worked closely with members of the Rochester Muslim community on this project. They will head to Washington later this month as part of the competition.