The issue isn’t hidden…
From famous actors and athletes to hashtags trending worldwide, the fight to end sexual assault is a prevalent one in society. Acknowledging a socially constructed culture that perpetuates inexcusable behavior like sexual assault whether consciously or unconsciously is a hard pill to swallow. As an incoming college student, your parents warn you to watch out for your surroundings, walk with a friend when you’re out, and to stay away from that tequila that you ALWAYS regret the morning after. While these are all important conversations that need to continue, what about the conversations to begin unraveling this day to day culture from its roots? As students on a huge university campus, we have the power to take a stance on more than just the aftermath of those assaults.
Take a stand.
A group of students in the Greek community (as well as others all over campus) have done exactly that. This past fall, Hasan Nadeem, a senior in Psi Upsilon, was approached with starting an organization that engaged both men and women. The answer to Hasan was simple, “It was something I couldn’t say no to. It seemed as though saying no would be equal to saying that I didn’t care about sexual assault on campus, and that simply isn’t true.” Founding We’re Better Than That- Men Against Sexual Assault (WBTT MASA), was the first step in this dialogue. Noticing a significant lack of organizations that focused on engaging men in the issue of sexual assault was the platform for WBTT. Recognizing the role men play in this culture is crucial in beginning the dialogue between both men and women. This past fall, WBTT began doing peer-to-peer discussion sessions with fraternities. With success and connection in the discussions, Hasan and fellow members like Erin O’Connor, Margaret Turlington and other Greek life members decided it wasn’t enough to just talk — there needed to be action.
“Sexual assault is reported disproportionally within the Greek community, but members have never been given a chance or the safe space to acknowledge the issue. We’re Better Than That’s goal with the video, was to confront this problem and to start the conversation.”
Pairing with incredible photographers and cinematographers Emilie Enke and Chase Uttley, WBTT wanted to create a video that recognized the raw and real truths of why this organization and empowerment was something we couldn’t ignore any longer.
“We wanted to impact people on campus–within Greek Life in particular–we wanted organic and candid responses from people of influence.”
Waking up to 40,000 views a mere 24 hours after the video was posted on the internet was something no one expected, but it only helped prove that this campus culture had its run, and there were students at UW and across the country that believed it was time to take a stand. Coverage from Total Frat Move, other mainstream publications, and people in government who are passionate about these issues is definitely a goal, but Hasan reminds us that it’s more than watching a video. “People need to actively listen to what is being said and then make it their own issue. I hope this video has encouraged others to make this their own issue, and caused them to reevaluate how they think and act. If the video is accomplishing that, then I will be content.”
If you’re interested in being actively involved in We’re Better Than That, email email@example.com for more information, but more importantly actively engage in #changingcampusculture every day. Listen to what you and others are saying. Call people out. Recognize and intervene. Include yourself in a conversation and movement that is long overdue.
Find the video and stay up to date on the Facebook page here. Include yourself in UW-Madison’s ability to #changecampusculture.
Photo courtesy of Erin O’Connor.