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).

3 Things We Learned from One Act Participants

Bystander intervention is considered a promising practice for preventing sexual violence on college campuses. UNC-CH first implemented bystander intervention in fall 2010 with our first One Act training, and have been growing the program since then, training over 2130+ students in One Act or One Act for Greeks since its inception.

Because of our commitment to implementing programs using the best available evidence possible, Student Wellness staff collect data about the effectiveness of One Act bystander intervention to make sure that what we’re doing is working! We’re delighted to share that data from the first two years of the program that we’ve previously shared here on the blog was published in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

So what else have we learned?

  1. About one quarter of students attending One Act trainings (excludes One Act for Greeks*) in 2012-2015 identify that they have experienced sexual violence, interpersonal violence, or stalking in their lifetime.
  2. On average, 85% of One Act participants (excludes One Act for Greeks) in 2012-2015 know someone who has experienced sexual violence, interpersonal violence, or stalking.
  3. 100% of participants in both One Act and One Act for Greeks during the 2014-2015 academic year who completed our 1 – week post-test said that they are likely or very likely to intervene if a friend says that forcing someone to have sex is okay.

*due to time limits, anonymous clickers are not used in One Act for Greeks

Read FAQ’s about our research here.

Created by Kelli Raker via piktochart

How to have a better hookup?

After last semester’s “Orgasm? Yes Please!” performance, we received feedback that you wanted to learn more about communicating about sex during hookups.  In our program, we showed couples in committed relationships working out how to have safer & better sex.  Y’all let us know that you want to see how that works in less committed relationships, too.
What are the difficult conversations with hookups? What do you wish you could express? How could you picture your hookups being safer and sexier? Your questions will help us bring you a fresh, updated OYP in Fall 2013!
Let us know what you think on this anonymous survey.
Stay tuned to the Healthy Heels Blog for information on the upcoming Orgasm? Yes, Please performance! Put it on your calendar: Friday October 25, 2013 7-9pm.

More than Molly- Real Talk about Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately, you’ve probably heard about Rick Ross’ newly released single U.O.E.N.O., during which he raps “Put molly in her champagne / She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that / She ain’t even know it,” The song has sparked controversy and online petitions calling for companies like Reebok to drop Rick Ross as a spokesperson and radio stations to remove the song from their playlists. I gotta tell you- I’m pretty pumped about this. I’m pumped that the public is outraged with Ross’ lyrics and glorification of drugging a woman with ecstasy (a.k.a. “molly”) in order to have sex with her and that I haven’t found one article citing that the ambiguous woman Ross is referring to should have watched her drink.

Despite my elation about the public conversations being prompted by Ross’ lyrics, our conversations about drug facilitated sexual assault need to go beyond illicit drugs and drink spiking. If we’re going to talk about drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), we need to be willing to engage in a conversation about alcohol. Alcohol is by far the most commonly used substance in drug facilitated sexual assaults, whether alcohol is forced upon the victim* or a perpetrator takes advantage of someone who has willingly consumed alcohol.

drunksexUp to 52% of a sample of men who reported committing a sexual assault since the age of 14 had been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault(s) (Gidycz, 2007). High risk drinking has been linked to sexual perpetration among first year college students, with heavy drinkers being more likely to report that they have perpetuated a sexual assault (Neal & Fromme, 2007).

What theories are there to explain the frequent concurrence of alcohol and sexual violence perpetration? Researchers speculate that either:
(a) alcohol causes a causal role in sexual violence perpetration
(b) the desire to commit sexually violent acts prompts perpetrators to use alcohol heavily so that their actions are seen as more socially acceptable/excusable since they are intoxicated
(c) various other factors contribute and cause both high risk drinking and sexual violence perpetration (Abbey, 2008; George, Stoner, Norris, Lopez, & Lehman, 2000).

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Pennsylvania Coalition against Domestic Violence explain the relationship between American culture, alcohol use, and sexual violence as one that includes multiple factors.

“American culture glamorizes alcohol consumption and links it to sexual desire, sexual performance, aggression, and other types of disinhibited behavior. This affects people in two ways. First, as noted above, people may decide to drink when they want to be sexual, aggressive, and/ or disinhibited. Alcohol provides them with the “liquid courage” to act in the way they wanted to act. Second, intoxicated individuals are likely to interpret other people’s behavior in a manner that conforms to their expectations. Thus, a smile is more likely to be viewed as a sign of sexual attraction and a mildly negative comment is more likely to be interpreted as grounds for an aggressive response” (Abbey, 2008).

Even with societal pressure and the cognitive effects of alcohol, no matter how drunk a person is it does not excuse committing a sexual assault.

If you’re worried about a friend’s high risk drinking and concerned that their own alcohol use may be influencing their sexual decision making, you can encourage them to make an appointment with an Alcohol and Other Drug Intervention Specialist at Student Wellness. Alcohol and Other Drug Intervention Specialists assist students in exploring the social, academic, and sexual consequences of their drinking and encourage positive changes in drinking behaviors through Tarheel BASICS. Remember, how drunk a person is does not excuse committing a sexual assault.

Look out for Raise the Bar, a Student Wellness initiative launching in April as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Raise the Bar is an outreach and training program for local bar establishments offering education on DFSA and training on bystander intervention, providing bar staff the information and  tools to intervene and prevent drug facilitated sexual assault.

Raise the Bar Chapel Hill Caps not Bold


*The term victim is used because this post focuses on circumstances surrounding the victimizing experience of DFSA, not the recovery process

  • Abbey, A. (2008, December). Alcohol and Sexual Violence Perpetration. Harrisburg, PA: VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved month/day/year, from: http://www.vawnet.org
  • George, W.H., Stoner, S.A., Norris, J., Lopez, P.A., & Lehman, G.L. (2000). Alcohol expectancies and sexuality: A self-fulfilling prophecy analysis of dyadic perceptions and behavior. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 168-176.
  • Gidycz, C.A., Warkentin, J.B., Orchowski, L.M. (2007). Predictors of perpetration of verbal, physical, and sexual violence: A prospective analysis of college men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 8, 79-94.
  • Neal, D.J., & Fromme, K. (2007). Event-level covariation of alcohol intoxication and behavioral risks during the first year of college. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75 , 294-306.

The Food Police

Every time I order food from a particular take out place, as soon as I hang up the phone I get an incoming call. An automated machine calling on behalf of my bank, reciting “We fear there may be fraudulent charges on your account […] Please contact our identity theft and fraud department immediately at …. “. Sometimes I even get a text with the same information. The most recent time, I received a call, text, and an email which even went so far as to inform me that my account had been put on hold (i.e. my card was useless) until I called them back to go over the most recent charges on my account. Every time this happens I have to call the bank, and listen to a stranger list the most recent purchases on my card- which of course always concludes with a report of the place I ordered food from and the amount charged.
When the very nice stranger on the phone asks me if this is my charge, all I hear them saying is “so- this extremely unhealthy carb full restaurant you ordered from AGAIN…you spent ____….Don’t you live alone? Geez how many people are you planning on feeding?” I feel embarrassed and called out by the universe for my eating choices and frustrated at the fact that I am forced to report them to a stranger. Even so, I have not yet had the guts to tell my bank that they can stop calling every time I order food from this place because yes, it’s always going to be me (I like to eat their food) so while I appreciate your concern and thorough job of protecting my identity, please stop asking me to answer for my food choices.

These interactions with my bank, although unintentionally and indirectly on their part, are a great example of food policing. I’m sure that many folks prone to food policing out there mean the best. Sometimes it’s good to catch ourselves though and ask – what good is food policing really doing?

If you’re concerned about a friend’s health, it will probably be much better received if you express those concerns in the context of health and caring for your friend instead of commenting on if they’re “going to eat all that”, asking them “if they need to eat that” and making comments such as “you sure don’t look like a vegetarian”. Food policing ourselves, i.e. making comments like “oh no, I don’t need anymore, I’m trying to be good” can have a similarly negative effect on those around us. Food policing may sometimes even sound like compliments such as “great job choosing that salad!”.

Unless a friend or partner has come to a plan of healthy eating or exercising on their own or at the suggestion of a doctor and specifically asked for your support, food policing may be more harmful than helpful. Hopefully you’ve been hearing a lot about eating disorders and how they affect college students over the course of this past week. Even if you think information about eating disorders seems a little too extreme to apply to you and your friends, we can all still be mindful of how our own food policing-whether directed at others or at ourselves in the presence of others- is affecting our friends and their body image.

nutrition1If you’re genuinely concerned about a friend’s eating habits, make it a point to talk to them while they’re not in the middle of a meal or about to sit down to start eating. You may consider suggesting they make an appointment at Student Wellness to meet with a Clinical Nutrition Specialist or Nutrition Education Consultant on campus. They’re great folks who can help you, your friend, or a partner go over healthy meal planning and choices for them and their body. If you’d like to host a program on healthy body image or nutrition for your student group or hall, check out the health education and training services available at Student Wellness.

How To: A Guide To Helping a Friend with an Eating Disorder

Since today marks the half-way point of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we wanted to share some information with you about how to help a friend who’s struggling with disordered eating or how to reach out for help yourself.

So, you’ve noticed that your friend has become overly concerned with what she eats or how much she weighs. Or maybe you have a friend who excuses himself from the table immediately after eating and you’ve heard him throwing up in the bathroom several times.  How do you show your concern and encourage your friend to get help? Here are a few tips.

  • Learn all that you can about eating disorders. Eating disorders are complex problems that require lots of support, care, and professional guidance. Check out http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org and  www.something-fishy.org.
  • Approach your friend in a caring, nonjudgmental way.  Explain WHY you are concerned and WHAT you have specifically observed.
  • Know that your friend might be in denial or react in anger.  Your friend may insist that everything is fine.  Do not back down, but rather continue to be available for your friend.
  • Continue to encourage your friend to seek treatment, even though he or she tries to convince you that nothing is wrong.  Do not accept or support their unhealthy behaviors.
  • Consider informing the parents or the resident advisor of your concerns.
  • Remain friendly and open to the possibility that your friend may choose to seek help in the future.
  • Remember…if your friend is over 18 years old, she or he is an adult and cannot be made to seek help.

Now that you’ve had the difficult conversation with your friend and he or she wants to reach out for help, what are the next steps? UNC has a variety of great resources to support someone struggling with disordered eating.

Counseling and Psychological Services
Speak with a trained professional to receive a referral for a therapist in the area. Body image groups are also occasionally offered.
Appointment: Walk-in to the 3rd floor of Campus Health

Campus Health Services
Speak with a health provider who specializes in Eating Disorders.
Katie Gaglione, N.P.
Appointment: 919-966 – 2281

Nutrition Counseling from a Registered Dietitian
Antonia Hartley, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N.
Appointment: 919-966 -2281

Nutrition Counseling from a Sports Dietitian (for athletes)
Mary Ellen Bingham, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Appointment: 919-966 -6548

For a free online eating disorders screening assessment, click here.

And don’t forget to come support the rest of the NEDA Week events going on around campus!

Beyond Bullying

Identity based and sexual harassment are not often talked about, even though we may often see them in our classes, workplace, and community. Identity based and sexual harassment belong on the continuum of interpersonal violence and actively uphold identity-based systems of oppression such as racism, ableism, sizeism, heterosexism, cysgenderism,  anti-Semitism, sexism, classism, etc. Microagressions are quips and comments that often have unintentionally harmful effects on folks who are pinpointed by them and help to maintain the oppression of marginalized peoples or groups in our society.

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Harassment, in contrast, is

(a) intentional,

(b) repeated, and

(c) involves a (perceived or real) power disparity between the enactor and the target.

The power disparity between folks enacting harassment and those who are targets could be due to their role in the environment (i.e. professor and student, supervisor and employee, etc.) or larger institutional and societal forces that create power imbalances based on identities. The identities attacked by identity based harassment can be actual or perceived, and chosen by the target as an identity with which they associate or given to them by society or their upbringing.

Time out: what’s the difference between identity-based harassment based on sex identity and sexual harassment, you ask? Identity based harassment could target an individual based on their sex (i.e. male, female, intersex), while sexual harassment targets someone based on their alleged, perceived, potential, or actual sexual behaviors or proposed sexual acts.


So, what can you do if you’re experiencing identity based or sexual harassment? There are multiple offices on campus prepared to help folks in the UNC Chapel Hill community who are experiencing identity-based and sexual harassment, providing everything from education and prevention, to emotional support, to university reporting options. Check out a list of these resources here.

Want to learn more about what you can do to prevent identity-based and sexual harassment? Check out the new One ACT program Beyond Bullying, a skills based workshop for students to build on the bystander intervention skills practiced in One ACT and focus on the prevention of identity based and sexual harassment, which will be hosted for the first time on February 28th at 6:00pm in Dey 202.

Make sure to check out One ACT’s cube in the union on oppressive and harmful identity based language and take the opportunity to talk to your friends about why it matters.

Fighting Fair & Healthy Communication in Relationships

Real talk. Couples argue. Even if you really like each other 98% of the time, every couple gets into a snafu or disagreement every now and then. How can you survive the fights and keep your relationship happy and healthy overall?

Here are a few things to avoid:

Criticism. While no partner is perfect, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between a complaint and a criticism. A complaint addresses a specific action of a partner(s). A criticism is more global — it incorporates or implies a negative judgment about a person’s character or personality.

Contempt. Contempt can be communicated through sarcasm, name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. Contempt is harmful to a relationship because it is virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that their partner is disgusted with them.

Defensiveness. When a disagreement escalates and becomes negative and critical, it’s not surprising that someone may feel attacked and thus become defensive. While this is a natural response, becoming defensive keeps a person from taking responsibility for your part in the conflict and essentially blames one partner as solely responsible.

Stonewalling. In relationships where criticism and contempt lead to defensiveness, which leads to more contempt and more defensiveness, eventually one partner tunes out. This stonewalling involves acting as though they could not care less about what the other is saying or feeling, and often looks like refusing to engage in conflict resolution or touch conversations altogether.


And some healthy communication tips for tough conversations:

Validate and affirm the importance of the relationship and your partner to you.  Express your hope that you can have an authentic, respectful conversation. Agree on whether you’re okay with taking a break from the conversation if you or your partner get frustrated or feel overwhelmed.

Stay focused on the main theme(s) you want to discuss.

Make sure that your verbal and non-verbal communications are in alignment.  Body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and body posture can have a huge impact on the meaning of words. The tone of our voice and the volume you speak in can all change the meaning of your message as well.

Use “I” statements, feeling statements, and be direct. Passive aggressiveness is not effective and can only escalate situations. “I” statements ensure that you are keeping the conversation focused and remaining honest to your own experiences.

Use active listening skills. Use eye contact and avoid texting, being on your computer, or interrupting during an important conversation or argument. Keep an open mind and try to understand your partner’s experience rather than judge it or get defensive.

Paraphrase and ask questions. Use very brief statements to summarize or reflect what the other person has said. This practice allows an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings within the conversation before they grow into their own argument altogether.

Be supportive. Even if you disagree, both partners should support each others’ right to share their feelings and thoughts as well.

Make specific requests for behavior changes you need. Perhaps you need to change some of your own behaviors or perhaps you would like to see a change in the behavior of your partner(s). Maybe you would like a change in how you do something as a couple. Look for a compromise. Keep in mind its important in a new relationship to balance trying new things and communicating what you want.

Afterward, do something fun! After a conflict has been resolved or a tough conversation concluded, it can be helpful to do something fun or enjoyable with your partner(s) to end your time together on a positive note.  Although it may feel awkward after you’ve just had a tense conversation, spending some fun time together can remind each other what you like about each other and why sticking it out through tough times and working through disagreements is worth it.

Communication tips taken from Sustaining Healthy Relationships in LGBTQ Communities curriculum.


Enjoyed this post and think more information on healthy relationships would be helpful for you or you and your boo? Check out Sustaining Healthy Relationships, an online workshop created by Carolina students, for Carolina students.

If you’re afraid to communicate your needs or express a disagreement with your partner(s) for fear of what they might do, your relationship may be struggling with more than some problematic communication patterns. Check out the resources at safe.unc.edu which can help you sort through whether your relationship may be abusive and offer you options of what you can do if it is.

Is Pre-Gaming a Good Idea?

College students, if they choose to drink, pre-game at higher rates than other populations. But is pre-gaming a good idea, or does it lead to more negative consequences than good?

College students tell us they pre-game for a variety of reasons: to avoid underage drinking tickets at a bar or dance club, to spend less money on alcohol, or because they attend a party ahead of time where drinking occurs.

While avoiding legal trouble and spending less on alcohol are admirable goals, does pre-gaming help? According to the research, pre-gaming actually results in a higher likelihood of heavy drinking, spending more money, hangovers, blackouts, and risky behaviors like vandalism.

This is because pre-gaming lowers your inhibitions and impairs your ability to make good decisions later in the night, like alternating alcoholic drinks with water, or knowing to stop drinking when you’ve reached your limit. The research, by author Florian Labhart of the Addiction Switzerland Institute in Lausanne, indicates that on nights that don’t involve pre-gaming people drink less on average, and are less likely to experience the negative effects associated with having too much alcohol.

Here at Campus Health we have harm-reduction approach, which means that we are not making any judgments with regards to alcohol or drugs. We focus on helping students identify ways they can reduce their risks for alcohol and other drug related harm, and we help students put in place strategies that they find useful to avoid the negative consequences that they identify.

So if you choose to drink, make sure that you are aware of the risks involved, and make sure you know that pre-gaming is not always as good of an idea as it sounds.

As always, stay safe, and stay healthy!

Inspired by this post in Men’s Health

Relationship Violence Awareness Month

October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM), and UNC’s schedule of powerful events is in full swing, including The Carolina Men Care Campaign, which begins today October 9th  and continues through October 16th. The Carolina Men Care Campaign focuses on male-identified allies and partners of those who have experienced or are experiencing relationship violence. In addition to hosting events as a part of RVAM, the Carolina Men Care Campaign will be tabling in the Pit all week to provide resources and information on ways male-identified folks can prevent relationship violence and be allies for survivors.

You can learn more about relationship violence by attending campus events, or encourage a friend who you know has been affected by relationship violence to seek help and support by attending one of the month’s events.

RVAM Event Schedule

October 1st-31st Durham Women’s Shelter Drive

October 1st-31st Healthy Relationships Campus and Media Campaign

October 15th-31st The Courage Project

October 9th at 5PM Partners of Survivors Workshop

October 10th at 5:30PM Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes film screening

October 11th at 7:00pm
Healthy Relationships: How Parents Can Talk to Kids (In Spanish)

October 12th Chapel Hill Underground Party

October 13th at 5:00pm Domestic Violence Awareness 5k

October 13th Poetry Slam

October 15th at 6:30PM Men Against Relationship Violence: What it Means to be a Male Ally

October 16th at 7PM Dr. Jackson Katz

October 17th at 6:30pm The Art of Healing

October 23rd at 4:30pm Legitimate Rape? Current Scholarship and the Debate over Consent and Choice

October 23rd at 6PM Communicating with Children about Relationship Violence workshop

October 26th at 7PM Halloween Fun Run

October 28th Domestic Violence Walk

October 30th at 5:30PM The Naked Truth: How Media Shapes Us

October 30th at 7:00pm Film Screening: “Sisters in Law”

     To learn more about what organizations and campuses around the country are going for RVAM, check out the No More Campaign and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence for other national and international public awareness and advocacy campaigns and safe.unc.edu for resources for those who have experienced relationship violence.