Take Back the Yak

MUSG & Take Back the Yak

MUSG launched the Take Back the Yak initiative this fall to address the cruelty that can be frequently seen on the anonymous posting app, Yik Yak. The Climate Study completed last spring by students, faculty, and staff, cited Yik Yak as a divisive force on campus. Over the summer, MUSG leaders attended a conference with other student governments and learned about the Take Back the Yak campaign.  The Take Back the Yak campaign utilizes student users of Yik Yak to downvote posts containing hate speech.

MUSG recently partnered with the organization Yik Yak on the Take Back the Yak initiative.  Through this partnership, members of MUSG and other student organizations are collaborating with Yik Yak representatives to ensure the app continues to be a fun and positive community building outlet for students.  

Without our partnership, the Yik Yak representatives were unable to promote the use of the app on campus.  However, by partnering with MUSG, Yik Yak representatives were able to promote the use of the app by giving free promotional materials to students. Nearly 200 students received the promotional materials, and signed the following pledge:

“I, as a Marquette student, pledge that my posts on Yik Yak will adhere to the Marquette University Mission Statement and align with our University’s Guiding Values. Even though it is an anonymous app, I understand that I still represent the Marquette University community when posting”

In addition to the pledge, the Take Back the Yak initiative encourages students to follow Yik Yak’s established guidelines.  These guidelines attempt to discourage users from posting Yaks that:

  • “Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten, or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.

  • Use racially or ethnically offensive language.

  • Discuss or incite illegal activity.

  • Post any image or language that is obscene or offensive, threatening or demeaning to any individual or group.

  • Post anything contrary to our public image, goodwill or reputation.”

While Yik Yak has protections in place to ensure all posts adhere to their guidelines, they recognize that they are not 100% effective in that effort.  In an article in the New York Times, Tyler Droll, a co-owner and co-founder of Yik Yak calls upon the communities where Yik Yak exists to “to police themselves by ‘upvoting’ or ‘downvoting’ posts” (If a yak receives a score of negative 5, it is removed).  Droll says, “what it comes down to is that we try to empower the communities as much as we can.” With the The Take Back the Yak campaign, MUSG hopes to supplement Yik Yak’s current mission to keeping racist and hateful posts off of the app by encouraging students to downvote the posts.

Take Back the Yak is a group of student from across student organizations who have committed to taking action when a post containing hate speech has been identified. As a part of the campaign, the team member will downvote a post, and then will notify other members to also downvote the post.  Additionally, students who see a post with hate speech can inform members of the team by emailing TakeBackTheYakMU@gmail.com

MUSG is optimistic that the Take Back the Yak will encourage a Yik Yak user to think twice when posting on Yik Yak. If you would like to get involved with the Take Back the Yak Campaign or if you have additional questions please contact President Zack Wallace, musg.president@marquette.edu or stop by the MUSG office in AMU 133.

Please view the frequently asked questions about the campaign below for more information.

Take Back the Yak FAQ's

Q: Is MUSG ‘censoring’ Yik Yak?
A: No. We realize that there has been recent confusion surrounding the Take Back the Yak initiative. The bottom line is that MUSG is not censoring Yik Yak, we simply do not have the ability nor the interest to do so.

Q: Does MUSG have to ability to remove posts?
A: No. Students on the Take Back the Yak campaign team are just like any other user on Yik Yak and have the same access. MUSG and the Take Back the Yak campaign do not have the ability to delete a post immediately off of Yik Yak. 

Q: What criteria does the Take Back the Yak team use to downvote a post?
A: Take Back the Yak uses the same guidelines as established by Yik Yak itself (see above).