4 Highlights from Our Bystander Intervention Panel at NASPA

Posted on 22 March 2016 |

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campus answers naspa panelLast week the Campus Answers team returned from NASPA full of excitement. We had an amazing time and met some remarkable people. There were many interesting and vitally important topics discussed while we were there including:

  • Creating and implementing campus climate surveys
  • Embracing transgender and gender non-conforming students
  • Increasing faculty and student diversity on campus
  • Engaging students in bystander intervention

Highlights from Our NASPA Panel

In fact, we hosted a panel, (Pro)feminists: Male Advocates and Violence Prevention Educators on Gender Based Violence, to help educate on the importance of engaging men as bystanders in the fight against campus sexual assault—specifically through the use of men’s groups.

The panel addressed how higher education leaders and student advocates can help create and nurture a positive campus culture while simultaneously advocating for their students on local and national stages. They also provided resources and ideas for developing male advocate programs on campus and gave real-world examples of successful programs.

The panel of experts included:

  • Marc Peters, Brown University: Men’s Health Coordinator
  • Benjamin Bradley, Program Manager, Dartmouth Bystander initiative, Dartmouth College
  • Tremayne Robertson, Virginia Commonwealth University: Violence Prevention Health Educator
  • Paul Ang, Coordinator of Men’s Engagement, CARE (Center for Awareness, Response and Education), Northwestern University
  • Sacchi Patel, MasculinityU Co-Founder

And they did a fantastic job sharing their knowledge and expertise. Here are some of the highlights:

“To send nearly one million college-educated men into the world with troubled masculinities, underdeveloped gender identities, and erroneous assumptions concerning women and other men with whom they co-occupy society makes contemporary institutions of higher education one of the guiltiest culprits in the perpetual maintenance of patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia in America.”— Harper & Harris (2010) College Men and Masculinities: Theory, Research, and Implications for Practice

1. What is a (pro)feminist?

When asked “what is a (pro)feminist?,” Tremayne Robertson made the point that men’s involvement was actually something that women started over 20 years ago as a way to collaborate. He informed the audience that (pro)feminism is a constantly changing state of mind—not a place at which you arrive.

2. Who can join a men’s group?

The panel made it clear that men’s groups are for everyone on campus who identifies as male. The groups welcome different points of view and are very diverse. The groups should be a safe place—without any pressure—to redefine the concept of masculinity.

3. How do men’s groups thrive on campus?

Additionally, men’s groups should be about collaboration, and it’s very important to hold each other accountable. Membership should be voluntary and never punitive. What’s more, it’s important to have an advisor and a co-president to assure accountability and that no one person is in control.

4. Was there anything that helped on your journey?

Benjamin Bradley told a story about the power of language and how bystanders can be effective in changing attitudes. The story he told was about a time when he was with group of friends playing a game of basketball, and he used the descriptive phrase “wife beater” to refer to the shirt that another player was wearing.

In a very non-confrontational way, Robertson pointed out that the phrase—even though it’s used everywhere in popular culture—was harmful because it perpetuates a stereotype and normalizes violence against women. That experience changed Bradley’s thinking and he realized the power language has when it comes to fighting sexual assault.

More Information About Men’s Groups and Bystander Intervention

Want to find out more information about men’s groups and bystander intervention? Check out this blog on men as allies, and download our whitepaper, authored by Tremayne Robertson: Interrupting Violence on Campus: Engaging Men as Allies.

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