By Jilly Mcbane
Anyone who knows me could tell you that I absolutely love the University of Utah — the campus, the people, the overall energy. It’s my favorite school and yet, like any other university, I know it’s not without its problems, including those related to relationship and sexual violence.
At the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention Research & Education, we work to address some of these issues by coming up with creative solutions. In the realm of relationship and sexual violence, we know there are people who have caused harm on our campus, but we also think that change is possible. So, what are we doing about it? One thing we’re doing is trying to get people thinking about and talking about the topic, the focus of a new campaign we’ve launched.
We’ve dubbed this project the “You Might Be Causing Harm If…” campaign to help us all recognize and admit when we may have hurt someone else. In this campaign, we’ve come up with a list of eight specific, sometimes covert, harmful behaviors and we’ve plastered them on posters around campus. We’ve included the type of stuff that people don’t always talk about or downplay and normalize when we do, such as making fun of someone for being a virgin, showing our friends someone else’s nudes or drinking before hookups to get our partner more loose or comfortable. The hope is that students will notice and engage with these posters enough to shift this kind of behavior. Even if a small number do, it will have been a success.
As student staff members, we frequently get asked what exactly we do. To be fully transparent, it can be hard to give a good answer. A lot of our work happens behind the scenes — reading academic articles and listening to podcasts, etc. to learn more about this issue. While this work has informed our own understanding of relationship and sexual violence, related to this project and otherwise, I think we’re all really excited to have this campaign finally be launched for everyone to see. Whatever the reaction may be, at the very least we know we’re creating a campus that isn’t afraid of calling out and owning our mistakes.
Jilly Mcbane (she/her/hers) is pursuing a degree in psychology and is a member of Greek Life. Jilly is a staff member at the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention Research & Education.