Story by Carleigh Oeth
Video by Ryan Lund
Photo by Margaret Connors
Throughout Week 1 of winter term, black and white stickers with the numbers “95_” mysteriously began to pop up all over the University of Oregon campus. Then, on Jan. 18, a long black banner appeared along the windows of the EMU fishbowl, obstructing all natural light to those inside. In bold white letters, the banner broadcast a simple but puzzling command: Reset the Code.
It wasn’t until the men’s civil war basketball game that week that the meaning behind the mysterious messages became clear.
Reset the Code is a student-run campaign on the University of Oregon campus, and is driven by 20 SOJC advertising students who are involved with Allen Hall Advertising. The goal? To initiate positive change in the face of discrimination, hate and fear.
“The day after [the election], I talked to multiple students on campus, and there was this fear that was weighing on everyone,” said Aven-itza De Primavera, a designer from AHA who worked on the campaign. “It was a kind of sadness — a fear of the unknown.”
While Reset the Code is not a political movement, it was inspired by the heightened levels of fear and discomfort on the UO campus after the 2016 presidential election. Due to social tension and a sense of urgency, SOJC instructor and AHA advisor Tom McDonnell hand-selected students from AHA to build and activate a campus change initiative.
“When the group came together, we didn’t know it was going to be called ‘Reset the Code’ or what direction it was going to take,” said De Primavera.
The EMU fishbowl wrap, one of many on-campus operations for the Reset campaign, was conceived by senior advertising student Raquel Ortega, another designer on the campaign team.
“What ‘reset the code’ meant was something kind of uncomfortable to talk about: issues of race, issues of discrimination,” Ortega said. “We wanted to take away something that everyone takes for granted.”
Ortega designed the banner as a way to intentionally create an uncomfortable environment for students, regardless of who they are or how they identify.
“Covering the EMU windows effects everyone,” Ortega said. “The analogy for it was: If you say something hurtful or disrespectful, you block out someone’s perspective and make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable.”
Before they wrapped the fishbowl, the Reset team distributed stickers around campus, and later they hung another banner in the EMU near UO’s LGBTQIA+ office that proudly showcased the campaign’s pledge: “I pledge to abide by mutual respect and reject complacency in the presence of fear and hate.”
To take the pledge and “reset the code” means you are resetting yourself and your standards. The emblem of the campaign is derived from the UO student ID numbers, which all begin with 95. These numbers, or “codes,” represent our individuality, so ‘resetting the code’ refers to readdressing and enhancing our individual power to initiate positive change.
“Design is more than making it look pretty,” said De Primavera. “There has to be intention and purpose behind it, otherwise you’re just playing around.”
The campaign is still moving forward and will be releasing videos from its “reset room” event. The “reset room,” a temporary safe space set up in the EMU from Jan. 16 through Jan. 20, added a new level of engagement to the campaign by offering a way for students to directly interact on campus. Members of the campaign team encouraged UO students to come in and tell their own stories and discuss issues that were bothering them, thereby “resetting” their consciences.
“Some of [the stories] are very moving and emotional and inspiring,” said Ortega. “I feel like once people see those stories, they will be reminded of what Reset the Code means. It will live beyond the 95 logo.”
As of this writing, nearly 2,400 people have taken the pledge to reset the code. You can learn more and take the pledge too at resetthecode.com.
Carleigh Oeth is a senior studying journalism in the SOJC. She is from Portland, Oregon, where she held an editorial internship with the city’s local arts magazine, Artslandia, during the summer of 2016. This is her first year as a part of the SOJC’s Communications team, and she is also working as an associate editor for the Daily Emerald. You can view some of her work on her online portfolio and visit her on Instagram @carleighoeth.
Ryan Lund is a senior double-majoring in cinema studies and journalism, with a minor in business administration. This is his first year as a digital content creator, with a specialization in videography and video editing, for the SOJC Communications office. He has also worked extensively with the Science and Memory project. Follow Ryan on Instagram and Twitter @RynoLund, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at NorthFern Productions.
Margaret Connors is a senior studying advertising with a concentration in photojournalism. This is her first year interning for the SOJC Communication office. Previously, she was an intern for The Big Issue SA, for which she traveled around South Africa finding stories and learning about the industry. She is eager to create ethical, authentic and passionate work to share with the world. You can follow her on Twitter @margelizabethh.