What happens if we don’t do anything?

This blog was written by Jessica Smith-Ninaber, a social media intern with One Act, to address what happens when we do not intervene in situations that may lead to violence.

Let’s paint a picture. You’re at a party, the music is loud, there’s no furniture, it’s so crowded, and you look across the room and see a man with a woman “all up in her face”. She looks cordial at first, “I think I’m good here”, he doesn’t want to hear it, he moves closer to her and begins to try and dance with her, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend”, she says. Her face begins to look more and more uncomfortable as you witness the man getting closer and closer.

Thoughts run fast through your head:

  • She must know him. Why else would he be all up in her face?
  • He’s just drunk and probably messing around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing…I hope.
  • Does she need help?
  • Who, me? No, I couldn’t, it’s none of my business.
  • I should go help her, but is it safe?

And if you’re feeling extra brave that night…

  • I am going to help her!

This kind of scenario happens weekly for many people on our college campus. We go to a party, we witness something that doesn’t seem quite right, two people going upstairs, one person’s drunk and the other is sober, and so often we just stand there, unable to think properly, unable to act, and unable to intervene.

We know the positives of intervening, we know what happens when we muster up the courage to approach someone and diffuse the potentially dangerous situation, we know the good that can come out of it, but have we ever stopped to think about what might happen if we don’t intervene?

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Image courtesy of ExplorePortal on Twitter

It’s so easy to think the small acts we do don’t make a difference. It’s so much easier to not take responsibility and think that someone else will step up and intervene. It’s so much easier to just ignore the situation.

And yet, while that may all seem so easy and we continue about our days, our community is tolerating violence. Members of our community are becoming victims of violence. While it may be easier to not think about the woman at the party in that uncomfortable situation, on the inside she is screaming, “someone help me!”

If we don’t intervene, if we sit by passively, violence will most likely occur, sexual assault will most likely happen. We hear the statistic all the time, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their time at UNC, so how can we standby and do nothing? If you don’t say something, if you don’t intervene, if you think someone else will, then you are letting violence happen on your watch, all in the name of “it’s none of my business”. It is our responsibility as active bystanders to be just that, active bystander. It is also our responsibility as members of our Carolina community to promote behavior that we wish to become the norm; to stop behavior that threatens our safety; to promote an alternative Carolina Way that is committed to promoting health and safety on our campus.

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Image courtesy of Penn State on Flickr 

So the next time you see someone in an uncomfortable situation at a party, run up to them and with all the vibrancy you can muster say, “Hey, weren’t you in my class?!” It’s just an out if someone needs it. Diffuse the awkward and uncomfortable situation, and get between the person and the potential perpetrator. Do something. Do your One Act. Create a new Carolina Way and together, let’s put an end to violence at UNC.

If you want to contribute to creating a new culture at Carolina you can start by signing up for One Act training here.

Time for a Culture Shift

From walking on Franklin to hanging out with friends we all observe things that seem odd or off. The question is: What do we do about it? Do we keep going on with our own lives? Or do we stop and ACT?

Only 22.6% of UNC students said that they intervened as a bystander after witnessing an intoxicated person at risk of experiencing a sexual assault. Furthermore, of the students who participate in this Campus Climate survey, 77.4% of UNC students who did witness this situation did nothing to intervene.

In a society where we are told to keep to ourselves and mind our own business, it can be challenging to speak up and ACT.

But, ACTing and being an active bystander can save someone’s life.one act

Bystanders play a crucial role in the prevention of sexual and relationship violence in our Carolina community, and getting our culture to shift towards that belief is imperative. A bystander witnesses violence or conditions that perpetrate violence. Bystanders are not directly involved however they have the opportunity to intervene.

The One Act bystander intervention program offers a 3-step approach that can help us ACT in situations that we know are not right.


Asking for help.

  • Your safety is always the number one priority. If you notice something fishy, odds are others around you do too. Ask for help, and remember – your safety is the number on priority—strength in numbers.

Create a distraction.

  • If you see that someone is obviously very uncomfortable you might approach them and say “I think your car alarm is going off?” or “I just lost my phone, could you help me find it?” Both of these examples are ways to create a distraction and provide an opportunity for someone to leave.

Talking directly.

  • Talk to the two parties. Check in with the potential victim. Ask if the potential victim needs to be walked home. If the potential victim is a friend let them know they are too drunk to go home with someone because of the risk of sexual assault.
  • Be direct. “Are you okay?”, “How do you know each other?”
  • Remember to also check up with your friend after they’ve been able to process what happened. Ask them if there’s anything you can do and if they’re okay. J

To help continue building a safe UNC community, sign up for One Act training. One Act will give you “knowledge, skills, and confidence to recognize the early warning sings of violence and take preventative action in your everyday life”.

Watch out, confront, and believe. By taking these steps we can create a safer campus and community with less violence.

Safe at UNC logo.


Video produced by UNC students of UNC students called the “Bystander Experiment” through Interactive Theatre Carolina and One Act.









This post was written by Rachael Hamm, One Act Social Media Intern.

Getting Busy (Doing Nothing)

Have you ever noticed how many things require your attention?

School. Family. Work. Friends. Homework. Clubs. Papers. Post-graduation. Wait, me? Oh yeah. Me. Or you. Us, really.

It’s really easy to forget to give ourselves attention when all these other things are happening around us. Think about sleep. When was the last time you cheated yourself a little sleep? Or a lot of sleep? What about meals? Ever find yourself pushing those back further and further in the day?

No one’s saying it’s easy, but it is important to be sure we take a little time to ourselves to do absolutely nothing.


But how do YOU do nothing?

Maybe you’re taking a break to do nothing and you start watching some Netflix. Or maybe you pick up that new book – finally. Or maybe you just take a few minutes to check your updates: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.

But this isn’t nothing.

Photo by Jason Howie of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Jason Howie of Flickr Creative Commons

A great blog by Nicole Liloia explores the difference being busy doing nothing and actually, truly, really really doing nothing. Liloia talks about how we tend to feel overwhelmed by all the “something” we have to do that when we take time to do nothing, we don’t truly allow ourselves to do nothing. Sometimes, when we’re worn out and overwhelmed, binging on Netflix doesn’t seem to recharge us at all.

This is being busy doing nothing: giving into the subconscious guilt that we should always be doing something – anything.

The times at which we do nothing are essential for recharging our bodies and our minds. When we really allow ourselves to do nothing, we give ourselves time to reconnect with ourselves and to enjoy our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

By keeping ourselves busy – even if it’s only Facebook – we are distracting ourselves from ourselves. We are losing focus of the most important person in our lives: us.

So let’s give ourselves a fair chance, shall we?

In 2003 Amitay Tweeto created the quiet place project, an online site where you can “choose quiet.” It may see a bit counter-intuitive, but look at is as a first step in one of many to get yourself back to you.

The quiet place project uses several different ‘rooms’ to guide you through the process of reconnecting and doing nothing. It’s a judgment free place – a place free of social media and cell phones and advertisements. There aren’t even capital letters!

In the quiet place, you are invited to shut off all your devices and absorb yourself into a guided conversation with yourself for at least 30 seconds. Another ‘room’, the thoughts room, is a place where you can get out all of your thoughts and feelings and stress using a status bar, and watch your words burst into stars. Finally: the dawn room. The dawn room is extra special because it’s a place to go when everything seems too hard. As you navigate through this area, you are bombarded with kindness and encouragement to get you through whatever hardship your dealing with.

Though this isn’t technically doing nothing, it is a good step. The quiet place project is space where you can learn to do nothing, to connect with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and begin to enjoy them.

“i’m gong to say goodbye soon.

and let you get back to your notifications

but before that, i just want to give you some advice

from time to time

stop everything you do

and go to your quiet place


Loving Your Long Distance Relationship

“I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more…” But what are we walking for?

It’s a question that crosses a lot of minds when we hear “long distance relationship,” as though the sacrifice is too much. For some people, that may be true, but for others LDRs aren’t that much of a sacrifice.

People in LDRs can still have a relationship with their partners. We still hear about their long days at work, their awkward conversations with their parents, their bad jokes… The intimacy and the romance is still there, it’s just a little more spread out or creatively communicated.

The distance can be good for both partners, as it gives us some room to be with ourselves. This could mean sorting out our own emotions or stress, or working on our careers, but the point is that we have the space to do it.

And if we do reunite with our partners, it’s always a treat. It’s like a mini-vacation from our day-to-day lives with someone we truly enjoy spending time with. That weekend may even be the motivation you need to get through an especially hard workweek or paper.

Image by Eileen of Flickr Creative Commons

Perhaps the most important thing, though, is that our LDRs make us feel good. Even with the distance, our partners make us happy and bring joy to our lives. They can support us through a rough patch, and we can brag about them to our friends. The distance doesn’t seem to matter so much when we’re still being fulfilled.

Some of us may know exactly what we love about our LDRs, while others may be struggling to determine if it’s actually worth the stress. All relationships can be stressful at certain points, but distance can further complicate things.

For example, while maintaining an LDR, both partners may be faced with the increased financial burden to maintain their relationships. This doesn’t stop at paying for a plane ticket or gas, it includes taking time off of work – time which you otherwise would have gotten paid for.

Partners in LDRs can also have a hard time maintaining close friendships. This could be the result of not being able to partake in “couple activities”, or even dealing with the lack of free time to develop those relationships so you can contribute to your romantic one.

And finally, what are we? It can be difficult to assess the state of a relationship when the two partners are separated by distance. How do we know our roles in the relationship when we’re living week-to-week, or month-to-month? Partners in LDRs tend to set such high expectations for their time together that the roles can be unclear for time that is spent apart.

All of this added stress could make a person wonder: Why are we doing this?

It’s an important question. Why are you doing this? What do you enjoy about this relationship? It’s important for both partners to know why you are in a LDR, to clarify the logistics of the situation, the timeline, your feelings, and your expectations.

When partners feel as though they are out of sync, it can be easy to lose focus and to develop feelings of blame, resentment, or even personal guilt. These are feelings that can come up again and again.

So, you’ve decided you love being in your LDR, and you want to keep it going strong. Here are some relationship-maintaining strategies to help keep your LDR happy and healthy:

Positivity. An optimistic attitude about your relationship is invaluable to ensuring the security of your relationship. Always look for the best in your partner. Relationships can really suffer if we start searching for the other person’s flaws.

Assurance. It’s normal to have doubts every now and then about your relationship, but communicating your commitment and support frequently and verbally can really help both you and your partner to feel confident in the status of your relationship.

Openness. Let your partner know how you feel—don’t expect them to guess what’s going on with you. It will save you a lot of time and a lot of pain to be open and honest, even if that means spending your only two days together fighting.

Fight fair. Speaking of fighting, remember that while arguments inevitably happen in relationships, it’s important to fight fair. Listen, be gentle, and be kind. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt — or if nothing else, at least a chance to explain what they think.

Sharing tasks. Support one another through bad days, and look forward to future plans. Check in with one another throughout the day. Something as simple as sending a text and saying “thinking about you, hoping your day is good” can go a long way in helping us to feel confident in our relationships.

Share social networks. Talk to your partner about your friends and talk to your friends about your partner. By integrating the different areas of your life, you are likely to feel more comfortable with the relationship and the role it plays in your day-to-day routine.

Intimacy. Each couple does intimacy differently. Find what works for you and your partner and enjoy it! (Note: Sometimes our access to technology can do more harm than good.)

It may be difficult to implement all these strategies, especially right off the bat, so it’s important to remember that it takes time. Dealing with the stress of a LDR can be frustrating, but if we know why we’re doing it, it all becomes a little more manageable.


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5 Tips for Speaking Up to a Professor

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place: a revered professor has just perpetuated a rape myth (e.g. an unfounded statement that rationalizes and justifies sexual assault) and it’s only week five. What do you do now? Drop the class? Let it go?

These might be the easiest solutions, but we know that by allowing rape myths to go unchallenged we are perpetuating an oppressive culture and contributing to the problem. But what can we say? And how do we say it?  It certainly isn’t an easy feat, but here are five tips to help you manage your way out of that tough spot.

1. Language.

When addressing the professor it is important to use respectful and constructive language. Address ze[1] by the title indicated to you in class – Professor _____, Dr. ______, or by ze’s first name, if that is ze’s preference. Similarly, try to refrain from using “you” statements, and focus on the use of “I” statements. For example, “I felt very uncomfortable by that comment” as opposed to “You made me feel uncomfortable.” It is also important to consider tone, as an aggressive tone may make the professor feel that ze is being accused or judged. These feelings may result in ze shutting down. However, respectful and constructive language allows us to create a safe conversation to influence positive change.

2. Timing

While it is important to address these behaviors when they are expressed since it may impact others, consider confronting the behavior privately. Perhaps you can stay after class to speak with the professor, or you could schedule to meet with them during office hours. By addressing the issue privately, the two of you will be able to discuss the comment without publicly shaming anyone, and how comments like that are detrimental to creating a safer Carolina.

3. Seeking Outside Assistance.

If you feel as though you are unable to speak with the professor, it may be best to seek assistance from another authority figure. Perhaps you will be comfortable going to another professor in the department, or to your own adviser. Additionally, should you ever feel unsafe speaking with a professor about the issue, contact a campus resource, like the confidential Ombuds Office or Gender Violence Services Coordinator, or the (private but not confidential) Equal Opportunity and Compliance office.

4. Suggest Education.

Knowledge is power! If you feel that someone is working with wrong information, invite ze to attend a training session, such as HAVEN. This will give ze a better knowledge base, as well as some skills to create a safe community. Trainings are available for both students and faculty, so don’t be worried about passing on some training dates.

5. Be Confident. (and go with a friend, if you need to)

It can be hard to confront an authority figure, and sometimes you may even second-guess your decision to do so. Do not be afraid to speak up! You know when something is wrong. Trust yourself and follow through. Chances are good that you aren’t the only one who noticed the problematic behavior or comment. Try asking a classmate what they thought and if the two of you seem to be equally uncomfortable, ask ze to go with you. It can be especially helpful to make plan in advance for what you will say together.

This is your community and you deserve to be safe. When someone – anyone – challenges that safety, you have the right to speak out. Change certainly isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

For more information on how you can create a safer Carolina, sign up for a One Act training!


[1] “Ze” is a gender-neutral pronoun. It can be used for people who do not identify on the gender binary (e.g. male or female).