The Post-it notes have been showing up around the Rutgers University campus for months.
On doors. On computers. On buses. On library shelves.
Each sticky note contains an inspiring quote — like “Be as happy as a bird with a French fry” — and a website address.
For two semesters, the identity of the prolific poster, who went by RU Post-it Anonymous, was a mystery. But over the last few weeks, sophomore Dan Munoz has been revealing himself as the phantom purveyor of quotes.
"At the beginning, I liked the idea of being anonymous," said Munoz, 20. "It hasn’t been as anonymous lately. I guess that’s inevitable."
Munoz said he began looking for inspiring quotes and writing them on sticky notes as part of an acting class assignment during his freshman year. After seeing how people reacted to finding his notes on dining hall tables, classroom doors and bus windows, the soft-spoken student began to leave more and more notes in every corner of Rutgers’ sprawling New Brunswick and Piscataway campuses.
"Hundreds? Thousands? I have no idea," Munoz said when asked how many notes he has posted in the last few months.
The popularity of Munoz’s notes led him to create an RU Post-it Anonymous website (rutgers-post-it.tumblr.com) and Twitter account (@RuPostIt) to keep track of his quotes and interact with fans.
After months of trying to keep his identity a secret, Munoz revealed his name in December in a story in the Daily Targum, the campus newspaper, and again last month in a video posted on the Rutgers website.
But Munoz remains reluctant to be photographed, reveal his hometown or give too many details about himself in the hope the focus will remain on his Post-it project and the simple joy of finding ephemeral words of encouragement in an unexpected spot.
Many of his friends still do not know he is behind the notes, he said. He has not told his family.
The RU Post-it Anonymous website is filled with sometimes poignant anonymous notes from members of the Rutgers community sharing stories about spotting the sticky notes.
"Yesterday morning at the Suites bus stop, I saw one of your Post-its," reads one note on the site. "It said, ‘Pick yourself back up; You got this.’ You have no idea how much I needed to read that. I’ve slept like ten hours total this week and have been dealing with some heavy depression … Your Post-it reminded me of my strength and the day turned out fine!"
Munoz said his sticky note mission began last spring when the instructor in his acting course told the class to spend a week walking around campus without wearing headphones to better observe the world around them.
Because Munoz never wore headphones, he wrote “Leave your headphones at home” on small pieces of paper. He watched from afar as people found the notes and was fascinated by the range of reactions, from ambivalence to delight.
Encouraged by his acting teacher, Munoz began devoting his free time to browsing the internet, looking for inspiring quotes from everyone from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Kurt Vonnegut to Bob Marley and the Beatles. He handwrites the quotes on sticky notes in his small print and surreptitiously sticks them around campus throughout the day, sometimes in batches of 20 or more.
Some of the notes disappear within minutes, he said. Students have e-mailed him to say they collect them in their daily planners. Other notes, including those stuck on campus signs, can sometimes stay up for months.
Other than a few drivers who have chastised him for leaving litter on their campus buses, Munoz said no school official has discouraged him from leaving sticky notes. A campus spokeswoman said the university has no problem with the Post-it project.
"Dan Munoz’s contribution to Rutgers is one of the many ways that our students are creating a friendly and supportive campus community,’’ Rutgers officials said in a statement.
"The Post-it notes were just a simple and fun way of putting forth this reminder and an easy way to spread a simple message: Each person is beautiful and each person is loved," said Laura Appert, a Rutgers sophomore who worked on the project.On Valentine’s Day, members of Rutgers’ Catholic Student Association adopted a similar idea for a project dubbed RU Beautiful. Volunteers posted sticky notes with messages, including "You are worth it!," designed to inspire women.
Munoz said he hopes his Post-it idea spreads to other college campuses. He has already received messages from students at Rutgers-Newark and New York University asking how to start similar projects on their campuses.
"That’s really my goal," Munoz said.