Fifty Shades of Maroon project shows promising opportunities

Kassidy Crown


Fifty Shades of Maroon – Seattle Pacific University” is not a knockoff of E. L. James’ novel, but a project with ties to Seattle Pacific University itself.

SPU’s Fifty Shades, with blog posts going back to Autumn of 2016, attempts to break stereotypes and cast aside the labels others place on them.

Based on the famous Humans of New York blog, Fifty Shades has students interviewing each other to tell their story.

They are instructed to write a word on a whiteboard that represents how they believe other people see them, then have their photo taken. Then, they write on the board how they want to be seen and have their photo taken.

These photos, along with the interview that is then written up as a blog post for the website, serve as a powerful message to our school’s community, as stated on the Fifty Shades website: “[W]e hope to celebrate uniqueness and unity, the beautiful truth that here we are many shades of one color: maroon.”

In a society where we are so quick to label people, these steps to broaden our perspective in our Christian university’s community helps students, faculty and staff better understand their peers, coworkers and friends.

This project would benefit greatly from having it be a required step to graduate for those in the social science fields as well as those in the nursing major.

By requiring it for these majors, students would get practice in talking with a wide variety of people as well as practicing not being biased.

This would also help defend against the desire to make judgments on the first impression of an individual, which would help in both social science fields and nursing fields. Furthermore, by protecting against initial judgments until one knows the full story of an individual could help lessen the likelihood of misdiagnosis of illnesses.

While this project has begun to make a headway into our SPU community, I believe we could further branch out into our local community to help spread understanding and unity – for example, Tent City.

By branching out to Tent City, a community that is already on campus for part of the year, this project could help foster acceptance for those who are against SPU hosting Tent City.
The stories alone that would come from interviews with Tent City residents could both be some of the most fascinating ones to date and allow Fifty Shades to better reflect its ideological roots in the Humans of New York blog.
The inclusion of Tent City residents would reflect SPU’s dedication to serving the community and its foundation as a Christian school. Giving anyone a voice, no matter how impoverished or downtrodden they may be, can have transforming effects.
Although Fifty Shades seems to be relatively new, I believe that it has a promising future as the blog gains more attention among students. As this project grows, I hope to see it expand both within SPU’s population and to those who may sometimes call SPU home, no matter their circumstance.
Together, we can show that we are united in our uniqueness and truly are all one color: Maroon

Kassidy is a sophomore studying psychology.