What Would You Do?

Obama launches Bystander Effect Movements

I sat in the living room of my family’s ranch-style house petting my dog while watching television with my parents. It was a normal Friday night and we decided to watch a new show on ABC called “What Would You Do?”

I watched as a man, who was an actor, pretended to put a drug in a young woman’s drink, who was an actress. As I watched this show I saw numerous people see what was happening and just walk away. Every so often someone would come up to the couple and intervene. As I watched shocked, I asked myself, if I was a bystander in a situation like that, what would I do?

President Barack Obama recently launched two campaigns against sexual assault on college campuses. The “Not Alone” campaign is aimed at how to prevent sexual assault and respond to it at universities. The “It’s on Us” campaign is aimed at encouraging bystanders to take a stand. The overall goal of both movements is to keep college campuses safe from sexual assault.

There is a long list of topics we don’t like to discuss, whether it is sexual assault, drug use or alcohol poisoning. Chances are we all will see something along these lines in our four years of college, something that isn’t right. But here’s the real question: will you stand out and confront the person by saying, “Stop, don’t do this,” or will you watch in silence thinking to yourself, “it does not affect me”?

Maybe in the exact moment it does not affect you, but think about if you were the one in his or her shoes; if you were a victim. Would you want someone to stand up for you? If it was your best friend, would you stand up for them?

Nobody wants to be that guy or girl who is the center of attention for stopping something. It can be very uncomfortable. However, nobody wants to be the one being drugged, or waking up in the hospital from alcohol abuse or a victim of sexual assault.

It’s time we as students stand up for the rights and safety of others and ourselves on campus. To have each other’s backs, no matter the relationship we have together. While it starts with just one, it will take the entire campus community to get the message loud and clear: We will not stand for people taking advantage of others for their personal benefits. We will stand together and keep our community safe and our voices loud.

The truth is at first thought, watching an uncomfortable scene play out may not affect us, but in reality it does. The bystander effect calls on you to stand up for everyone, everywhere, no matter the benefit. It calls on you to be brave and for one minute not worry what others think. If you can stop one sexual assault by speaking out, think of the life you may save.

So next time you see something that may not seem right, stop and ask yourself, what am I going to do about this and what could happen if I don’t do anything and walk away? It’s on us, and if we’re in this together, we’re not alone.