There is currently an active Facebook page called Rotaract Beauty. This irks me for numerous reasons.
1. Rotaract is about service about self. This page is not.
2. It highlights external beauty as opposed to internal beauty.
3. It misrepresents what Rotaract is (a community service organisation).
4. It can be intimidating to potential members who come across the page.
5. It can be intimidating and aggravating to current members to see such an emphasis placed on beauty in a service organisation.
This is a page set up by Taiwanese Rotaractors, and so far, only Asian Rotaractors have featured on the page. Living in SE Asia for three years, I do understand the increasing prevalence of ‘selfies’ and an emphasis on external beauty is common around here. That is fine, it is their culture, which I accept. However, what I do NOT accept is bringing this into the image of Rotaract, a service organisation for adults ages 18-30 that meets twice a month to exchange ideas, plan activities and projects, and socialise. By adding Rotaracts logo and name to this page, these Rotaractors are ultimately expressing that ‘beauty’ is one of the core criteria of being a Rotaractor. It should not matter whether someone is seen as beautiful (it is all subjective), what matters is whether they are a nice person.
I recently expressed my concerns to Rotary International about this issue. Their response:
“There is a diverse global community of Rotaract, and all Rotaractors are welcome to share what Rotaract means to them. For some that may be service, for others it may connecting with those who share their hobbies, creating funny videos about their clubs, or participating in Rotaract travel weeks, cultural pageants, and other events. This expansive view of Rotaract does have some limits set by Rotary policy. An important one is that Rotaract—and the Rotaract logo—are protected Marks of Rotary International. Their use is extended to Rotarians and Rotaractors only when a proper club, district, or multi-district identifier is used. This allows Rotaractors, and members of the general public, to identify which club, district, or multi-district is responsible for a project, conference, or social media page. It ensures that local Rotaractors receive credit for their work, and it allows others to contact the organizers if there is an issue.
Since this Facebook page included the word Rotaract—as well as the Rotaract logo—without proper club or district identifiers, I contacted the organizers to ask them to change the name of their page. I reminded them that Rotaract is a program designed to promote better relations between all people worldwide through friendship and service. As you know, Rotaract emphasizes an abiding respect for the rights of others, including the right to decide when and where one’s image is posted. I further encouraged the page organizers to set strong standards for their page to allow Rotaractors to introduce themselves, share photos, and connect in positive ways while minimizing the potential for online harassment. Rotary has a strong commitment to safeguard Rotaractors, and others who participate in our programs, from harassment of any kind.
We hope to see changes to this page that reflect our conversations with the organizers. We rely on the goodwill and cooperation of Rotaractors and Rotarians to align with our policies, including our policies concerning Rotary Marks.
Thank you for your continuing commitment to Rotaract, to Rotaract’s goals, and to Service Above Self.”
The page is still live, being frequently updated and increasing in popularity each day. Their mission? “Light up Rotary. Light up the beauty of Rotaract.”
I am confident that the beauty of Rotaract is already being lit up by the well thought out service projects happening around the world as we speak. There is no need for this page, and I really hope, for the sake of Rotaracts image, that it is disbanded soon.