Not On My Campus UT is a student-led movement to end the silence surrounding sexual assault and create a safe environment for all students at the University of Texas.
Members are asking students across the University of Texas at Austin to sign a pledge stating in part:
“We have experienced, either directly or indirectly, the devastating effects of sexual assault on our campus. It is time to take responsibility for our student culture. We need to end the silence around sexual assault and engage fellow Longhorns in conversations about our collective and personal responsibility to prevent sexual assault.”
By signing the document, students are not only asked to pledge their commitment to the cause, but also follow these standards in their day-to-day life. For example, students will agree to “ask for verbal consent in every personal sexual encounter and encourage [their] peers to do the same,” and promise “not to be a bystander by accepting the responsibility to take action when recognizing harm.”
This last point is based on a powerful speech by Jackson Katz, a leading advocate for gender violence prevention education and keynote speaker for the Not On My Campus’ inaugural event on Thursday, March 26.
In his November 2012 TedTalk “Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue,” Katz argues for a definite shift in how we as a society think about gender violence.
Instead of only considering the two binary personas associated with violence – the abuser and the victim – he wants everyone to start considering themselves as “bystanders” or “anybody who is not a perpetrator or a victim in a given situation.”
Katz, who’s also the co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), says all bystanders should speak up against abuse, but particularly male bystanders.
“The goal is to get men who are not abusive to challenge men who are,” Katz said.
Katz goes on to explain that when he asks men to challenge “abuse” he doesn’t just mean stopping a violent act in the moment. Katz wants bystanders to go straight to the source, by challenging any sort of sexist, misogynistic, or violent talk and behavior toward women, before it reaches the point of abuse.
The focus on what leads to violent acts, instead of the violent acts itself, is how Not On My Campus members hope to make longterm change on their campus.
As of today, there are 545 people that have signed the pledge and this is only day two since Not On My Campus launched at the University of Texas.
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