Damn, it has been a long time since I have been here, and for that I apologize. However, it has been for good reason. My life as a new professional has been chaotic, rewarding, and challenging. Being in an office of two professional staff members responsible for serving every single student organization, creating meaningful leadership programs, and managing a fraternity/sorority life system that is growing exponentially is a tough task in its own right. At the same time, I have been working to change systems in place at the institutional level that create unnecessary barriers for our students.
Enough excuses about why I have not been writing. I just have not made the time to do it. But after last night, I was compelled to dust off the blogging keyboard and write a testimonial about a program and the change I witnessed. Last night, in conjunction with Associated Students Productions and Athletics, Sonoma State University was able to bring Mike Dilbeck to campus. Mike is the creator of Response Ability, a true movement in the fraternal world. If you want more information about what Mike does and his message, I suggest checking out his new website, http://www.RAProject.org. There is such a buzz around Response Ability that without much encouragement over 1500 students packed the gym to see Mike. First-year seminar students, athletes, and fraternity/sorority members alike were in attendance to hear about Mike’s 3 steps to help combat bystander behavior. I was beaming from ear to ear to see so many students in one place because I knew the message they were about to hear was powerful and quite frankly something they needed to hear.
I will not go into specifics of Mike’s presentation, as I am sure he would appreciate the business, and really that is not what this post is about. It is about the brief initial conversations I had right after Mike finished his keynote. Students came up to me and said, “I don’t know if I liked it.” I was prompted to respond with the natural reaction of, “Why?” The students could not provide me an answer. I knew at that moment that they were confronted by what Mike had to say and were not quite sure how to process it. They recognized that something was wrong and that they have been bystanders to behaviors that they do not agree with. Mike had challenged the students to examine what is happening in the community and to do something about it.
Another student said to me, “I really liked it and I hope that people will do something. But I’m not sure that everyone like it.” I told the student, “This is not something that everyone is going to get or even like. Some people will take Mike’s message and run with it. Others will keep their heads buried in the sand and do nothing.” She nodded her head and understood what I meant. I could see that students were challenged. They had to think, process, and reflect. Those were just a couple of the initial reactions to Mike’s keynote. I am anxious to see what other conversations may come up over the next few days and weeks.
One of the other lasting impressions from Mike’s post-keynote was with a young woman on Panhellenic. She was not sure if she like what Mike had to say and I asked her why. She retorted that she wanted concrete ways to confront bystander behavior. She understood Mike’s 3 tools but still did not know how use them. How to put them into practice. She made it clear that she is more than comfortable to stand-up for herself, but it is harder to stand-up for someone else. She wanted to go out and make change but still was not sure how to make it happen. I am sure that there are many other students in attendance last night who left feeling the same way.
So I leave this blog with a little challenge to Campuspeak and Mike Dilbeck. Students want the skills to end bystander behavior and create change in their communities, can you all help us give them the concrete skills and safe opportunities to practice them?
Until next time…
On a side note and quick promo for Mike Dilbeck, I would definitely bring him back to campus again.