It’s not news that sexual violence is a problem on campuses across the country. (In a way, it’s great that it’s not news, because people are seriously paying attention.) But amidst all the national debates, policy changes, and admin crackdowns, the question remains: “What’s a guy to do?”
Our answer: Be That Guy. Who is That Guy? That Guy is someone who believes that ending sexual violence—against anyone—is everyone’s responsibility. That guy isn’t afraid to stand up to violence against women (or anyone!) when he (or she) sees it. That Guy leads by example.
So how can you Be That Guy on campus?
- Be That Guy Who Listens: Listen to girls’ perspectives on what it’s like to stay safe on campus. Attend campus events with feminist experts. Read articles from survivors about the importance of ending sexual violence. If what you hear is off-putting or confusing, ask questions respectfully. Do your best to understand all the viewpoints, and why ending sexual violence matters to so many people.
- Be That Guy Who Talks To His Friends: Ask your friends—guys and girls—what they think about sexual violence on campus. Ask them how they handle consent when they’re hooking up. Talk about what confuses you and get advice from each other. The more we start talking about these things, the less awkward it’ll be when things actually come up.
- Be That Guy Who Asks: We know, we know: it’s awkward to literally ask someone if they want to hook up. But it doesn’t have to be. Asking shows that you care and you’re paying attention. Need help? Keep it simple with something like, “Are you okay with this?” or, “If you feel uncomfortable with something let me know.”
- Be That Guy Who Leads By Example: If one of your friends or classmates says something you’re uncomfortable with, let them know you’re not okay with it. Studies show it: when we hear something demeaning about women, 8 out of 10 of us feel uncomfortable, but don’t speak up because no one else does. When others hear you speaking up, they’ll feel more comfortable doing it too.
- Be That Guy At The Party: If you’re hosting a party, make sure it stays safe for everyone who attends. Be clear about what’s in the drinks. If you see people going back to private rooms, make sure they want to do so. If you see something sketchy going on, trust your gut and ask if everything is okay.
- Be That Guy Who Gets Involved. Part of a club?Co-host an event with a women’s group or fundraise for survivors. In a fraternity? Talk to your IFC about hosting a conversation about safety in the Greek system. On the paper? Write an op-ed on the importance of addressing sexual assault. When student groups step up, you set a new collective standard on campus.
- Be That Guy Who Volunteers: Volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter is one of the most direct ways to understand how this issue affects real people in your world—and give them a hand. Ask a local agency about how you can volunteer, or set up a fundraiser on your campus. Do it by yourself or invite friends or campus groups to join.
- Be That Guy Who Holds The School Accountable: Educate yourself about how your school handles sexual violence issues, and demand transparent, fair processes for students. Spread awareness about school policies through an article in your school paper, or talk to your campus groups about what public actions you can talk to hold your school accountable.
- Be That Guy Who Challenges Himself: There are a million excuses to not talk about sexual violence on campus, and we don’t need more of them. Challenge yourself to overcome the awkwardness or discomfort and face the issue of sexual violence head-on. Be the one who leads the way in setting a new standard where sexual violence is unacceptable, and no one’s afraid to do something about it.