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“The Friend Movement” Walks Through Penn State

There’s been a small change to the Penn State scenery recently. So small in fact, that maybe you haven’t even recognized it while walking through campus. I’m talking about the purple ribbons that are tied on to the armillary sphere on the Old Main terrace and outside the HUB entrance on Pollock Road. If you haven’t noticed them, that’s okay, but what you should take notice of is the meaning behind them.

The ribbons serve as mile markers for the Friend Movement, a project in which two men are walking the 921 miles from Chicago to New York City to spread awareness about increased bully prevention across the country.

Co-founders Elliot London and Ronnie Kroell are using the project to respond to the increasing number of suicides committed as a result of bullying over that past few years. One of the main inspirations to London and Kroell is Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate published a live stream of Clementi’s intimate moment with another man. The Friend Movement celebrates Clementi’s life, as well as the lives of many others who have been victims of bullying.

“Everyone has a bully story,” said Kroell. “We’re honoring those people with every mile.”

London and Kroell started their 921 mile journey on October 5 in Chicago and are expected to reach New York City on November 10. The long trek will culminate in a symbolic crossing of the George Washington Bridge, the place where Clementi ended his life three years ago. With Clementi’s family present, both London and Kroell will place purple ribbons at the bridge.

The Friend Movement is not an anti-bullying campaign, but rather a pro-friendship project. “Bullies are hurt people that need help too, and friendship can be the solution,” said Kroell.

The pro-friendship perspective of the Friend Movement is at Penn State until Friday. Over the last three years, 16 Penn State students have committed suicide. “We went out of our way to be here,” said Kroell. “It added an extra five days to our trip.”

But the student perspective is important to London and Kroell, as Penn State is the first school that they’ve visited on their trip. “We want the students to help us by sharing their thoughts and stories,” said Kroell.

Here are London and Kroell talking about the Friend Movement in their own words.

To learn more about the project, visit their website.

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About the Author

Anna Foley

Anna is a senior majoring in Communication Arts & Sciences and Spanish with a minor in Theatre. Yes, she went to Spain. Follow her half-funny thoughts @exfoleyator and send her chain emails at [email protected].

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