I MATTER Program – University of Illinois Athletics

What is that?

This intercollegiate athletics division is launching a social media program that supports our Fighting Illini student-athletes and coaches against social harassment and promotes social media accountability.

Why is it important?

As we strive to support our Fighting Illini against the negative impacts of social media, especially after adverse sports performance results, we have created the “I Matter” program. The objective of this program is to target hate speech and humanize the student-athletes and coaches behind Block I. Additionally, this program creates a platform for inclusion within our Illini community regardless of gender, race, religion, national origin, disability or differences in sexual orientation.

How can I be involved?

Take Action – “I Matter” Program

Research shows that 40% of athletes aged 18-21 experience negative harassment on social media. Join us in reducing that percentage by engaging in this social media anti-harassment program and raising the bar on social media awareness. Here are different ways to participate in this program:

  • Amplify the voice of Illini student-athletes and coaches on anti-social media harassment by reposting social media content which can be found on Instagram and Twitter here: @IlliniAthletics
  • Report harassment on social media by tagging @Illini_Matter
  • Use the hashtag #IMatter and share with us why you support this program
  • Participate in the next education in civility on social networks published by @IlliniAthletics

Navigating Social Media Harassment

  • If you encounter social media content that may be upsetting, stop to determine the possible situation
  • Social media users may react inappropriately to social events, sports performances and sports results
  • Harassment on social media can also be influenced by current trends or refer to another movement that is not so clear
  • Responding directly or immediately to the aggressor can lead to more conflict
  • Acknowledging harassment and responding with harassment can encourage the offender to continue the aggressive behavior

Reporting harassment on social media

  • If you come across any social media content that may upset or appear to harass our Fighting Illini, please report it to the respective social media platform:

How is the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics involved?

An internal committee has been formed to raise awareness of the negative impacts of social media harassment on Illini student-athletes and coaches. One of their initiatives is the “I Matter” program, which raises awareness and provides education on social media harassment. Additionally, internal practices have been put in place to further support and protect Illini student-athletes and coaches who experience social harassment.

Ryan H. Bowman