When 250 St. Thomas students RSVPed to the “Kony 2012 Cover The Night” event, organizers were anticipating a large turnout.
Sophomore Claire Dittmann posts a Kony 2012 flyer Friday night in the John Roach Center during the "Kony 2012 Cover the Night" event. (Katherine Curtis/TommieMedia)
But even with all the hype surrounding the Kony 2012 movement, less than 20 people showed up to post flyers around campus.
The lack of participation may have been because the event took place on Friday night or because it conflicted with three other major events on campus: the Relay for Life, Breaking the Silence and Ebony Open Mic Night.
But the momentum behind the movement has declined since the 30-minute video first debuted online.
“I feel like the marketing didn’t really match up with what they were asking or what the cause was,” senior Nataly Sanchez said. “They didn’t really do anything. I feel like it’s a good concept, but I feel like it’s a scam concept to be honest.”
Part of the decline in the Kony 2012 campaign is due to public speculation of Invisible Children’s business practices, particularly the percentage of funds put toward direct services.
“I don’t associate with Invisible Children through my actions,” junior James Wheeler said. “I don’t necessarily agree with everything they do outside of the Kony movement. I’ve just done my research on websites, and I know that there are better organizations.”
Invisible Children’s co-founder Jason Russell’s public disturbance in March also played a role in the movement’s decline. According to the Huffington Post, a “brief reactive psychosis” brought on Russell’s meltdown, and he was detained after being caught in a San Diego neighborhood in his underwear, yelling and disrupting traffic.
Despite the negative publicity surrounding the organization, participating students went forward and covered the John Roach Center and Aquinas Hall with Kony posters.
“I think it starts small, and we raise awareness here,” said junior Sara Nordstrom, St.Thomas ‘Cover the Night’ representative. “Then maybe some students walking by will say, ‘Oh, who’s that? What’s that?’ and try and raise awareness themselves and maybe take on a more active role and contact policy-makers.”
Though there may be aspects of the organization that students distrust, Nordstrom said people should not overlook the greater good the campaign is attempting to bring.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity for students to come together as a community and work toward something that they believe in and they want to make a change,” Nordstrom said.
Katherine Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.