By Emily May
I grew up on a pretty steady diet of Sesame Street. I moved to New York City from Richmond when I was 18 years old — and as I was exiting my dorm some guy said “hey baby” to me. Assuming New York City was like grown-up Sesame Street, I said “hey” back. He responded, “I want to **** the **** out of you.” The harassment continued throughout my college education, and I figured it was my fault. I didn’t look “tough” enough, and if I was really a strong woman than it wouldn’t hurt so much. But it did.
We started Hollaback! in 2005 thinking that street harassment was an urban problem. Over the past seven years I’ve talked to thousands of college students, and they’ve shown me that street harassment happens all over college campuses. It doesn’t matter how big or small the campus is, or if it’s in a rural or urban area. Studies show that 51% of college men admit to harassing their female counterparts, which of course means the reality is much, much worse.
My sister is going to college next year, and from where I’m sitting enough is enough. In a 2005 study 57% of students said that they wanted an anonymous online reporting platform to address campus harassment. It was by far and away the #1 solution voted for by students. When I called the author of the report, she said that no one ever implemented the recommendation. NO ONE. Luckily, anonymous online reporting is what Hollaback! does best.
We’re taking Hollaback! to the next level, and we need your support. Take two minutes to watch our campaign video and donate here.
This is a long fight — but we’re in it to win it. And with your support, all the baby girls rolling around in strollers today will never have to experience campus harassment the way that we have.
Here's more info on the campaign.
By collecting students’ reports of harassment in a safe and shareable way, we will develop a crowd-sourced initiative to end campus harassment on 10 college campuses over the next year. Our efforts will break the silence that has perpetrated sexual violence on college campuses, pronounce that any gender-based violence is unacceptable, and create a world where students have a response, and more importantly, a solution.
WHAT IS CAMPUS HARASSMENT? Campus harassment is sexual harassment that happens on campuses and includes bullying, groping, stalking, and assault. Across the United States, 51% of male students admit to sexually harassing their female counterparts. Campus harassment happens on rural and urban campuses, and at big and little schools. It’s happening in dining halls, dorm rooms, streets, and classrooms -- and our students deserve better. Way better.
WHY NOW? Campus harassment has probably existed since the advent of higher education, but today it is at epic proportions: 62% of women and 61% of men report being sexually harassed on college campuses [AAUW, 2005]. Yale students caught on tape yelling “no means yes and yes means anal,” caused a nationwide uproar, and a group of student activists sued Yale University for creating a “hostile sexual environment” on campus. Amongst the LGBTQ community, CNN reports that 33% of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) and 38% of transgender students, faculty and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to harassment. At Hollaback!, we’ve received hundreds of reports of campus harassment since we started in 2005.
Like bullying, campus harassment has been accepted as simply the price you pay for being a woman, or being gay on a college campus. Yet for students, the solution is clear. According to the AAUW, 57% of students say they would like their college to offer a confidential web-based method for submitting complaints. Hollaback!’s campus initiative will do just that.
HOW WILL IT WORK? From postings-to-impressions data collected on Hollaback! since 2005, we know that each time a survivor shares their sexual harassment story, the post is read by over 2,500 others. Hollaback! combines the democratization of the cell phone with geo-mapping and the free iPhone and Droid apps, to create an entirely new way to mobilize social change.
The Hollaback! campus initiative will transform students into open-source activists with the touch of a button. Students can submit experiences of harassment through two easy portals: a) the free Hollaback! iPhone and Droid apps, and b) directly to their campus-specific Hollaback! website, which will link to our dynamic mapping system. We’ll track campus harassment through data points to quantify and communicate its impact to campus staff and administrators.
With your support, the Hollaback! campus initiative will create a safe, action-oriented response to campus harassment, and with powerful reporting features, it will finally put a face on everyday campus harassment and assault. By using data to establish the case against campus harassment, Hollaback!’s social change efforts will ultimately result in significant improvements in campus policy and a reduction in sexual harassment against students.
In conjunction with student activists, Hollaback! will ignite the fight against campus harassment by pairing on-campus activism with our award-winning anonymous mobile and web platform. Our work will include:
- Custom Web Activism Portals. Working with students to customize their Hollaback! site to their school, and training them on how to transform digital storytelling into concrete improvements on their campus;
- Digital storytelling apps. Encouraging students to document their stories of harassment and bystander intervention through free iPhone and Droid apps;
- Educational Resources. Providing on-line materials for students on how to deal with harassment, and university resources including: the campus rape crisis center, campus security, women’s and diversity clubs, and links to current harassment and assault policies (thanks to our partnership with SAFER);
- Training and Support. Providing ongoing training and an online community where students can receive sustained support.
A world without campus harassment is possible. Your support gets us one step closer. Hollaback!