Commitment to Changing Campus Culture-Needs editing


Summary: This lesson is the final step for students on the path from 1) understanding the rhetoric surrounding sexual assault 2) learning what sexual assault is and it affects them 3) understanding how they can prevent it 4) making a commitment to do so.  This lesson is based around student priorities and experiences. To encourage honest and diverse responses, the lesson moves from an individual free write, to small group discussion, to large group discussion. While teaching this lesson it is especially important that student opinions are heard and discussed without judgment.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will describe how their expectations for college have changed.
  2. Students will describe how behaviors they see on campus will affect their abilities to have the college experience that they want to have.
  3. Students will brainstorm ways to change campus culture and make a written commitment to do so.
  4. Students will discuss the rhetorical effect of seeing their data in the visualization.


Class Materials:

  1. Commitment to Commitment to Campus Culture sheet either printed or projected


Student Assignments:

  1. Assign: Commitment to Campus Culture


Outline for Class Activity


  • Introduction (5 min):  Let students know that this lesson will be a chance to take what they learned at the Bystander Intervention Training and think more specifically about how they might apply it in their lives


  • Bystander Intervention Training Redux (5 min): Divide students into small groups and ask them to discuss the Bystander Intervention Training.  As they work, circulate around the room to reinvigorate conversation that are slowing down.
    1. What parts of the training did you find most helpful?  Least helpful? Why?
    2. What elements (if any) of intervening in a situation still worry or concern you?  Or that you felt didn’t get fully explored during the training?
    3. What strategies do you feel would work best for you if you ever found yourself in a position to intervene? Why?
    4. If you feel comfortable sharing what you wrote about, discuss the example you chose for the Our Guidelines on Campus assignment.  If you discussed a real life situation, could you have intervened effectively? What strategy might have worked best? What barriers were present that mind have kept you from intervening?


  • Large Group Discussion (10 min): Give students space to freely discuss the Bystander Intervention Training.  Help students talk through confusion they might have about intervention strategies and let them continue to discuss the barriers they see before them.


  • Individual Free-write (5 min): Introduce the data results from the class survey and campus survey.  What trends are there in the data? Ask students what they notice and how they feel about that. Have students take out a sheet of paper and spend some time individually considering the following questions.
    1. Look at our data visualization.  Rhetorically speaking, what is the impact of seeing the data this way versus in a list or other chart?  Consider the construction of the visualization, include visual distribution of elements, colors and labels.  What parts of the visualization do you find the most impactful? Least impactful? Why?
    2. What about the data most concerns you?  What goals of yours are most affected by what you see in the data?  How are they affected?
    3. What changes to campus culture would make it easier for you to have the college experience you want?  


  • Small Group Discussion (10 min):  Encourage students to think of this visualization as a rhetorical tool and as a diagnosis of the campus culture.  In small groups have students discuss the trends revealed in the visualization that are most troubling to them, which ones they most want to change.  Then have them brainstorm ways that they can make those changes, for example: conducting themselves differently to set an alternative model for other students, talking to their peers to change the campus rhetoric, involving their student organizations, or intervening when they see something that doesn’t fit their guidelines.  How do they encourage the behaviors and attitudes they want? How do they discourage the ones they don’t want? While students work in their small groups, circulate around the room to encourage them towards more in depth discussion and reinvigorate conversations that have slowed down.


  • Large Group Discussion (10 min): The final step in creating their campus guidelines is brainstorming ways in which they can make these guidelines a reality on campus.  Have a large group discussion in which they report out the strategies that they came up with in their small groups. As with bystander intervention, have them also discuss what might keep them from enacting these steps towards a safer campus.  Type these action plans into the bottom of the class guidelines.


  • Conclusion and Final Assignment (5 min): Thank students again for their thoughtful contributions to their version of the Campus Culture Project.  Finally, introduce the last assignment they will complete for these lessons: a written discussion about how they want to affect campus culture based on their class guidelines.  


Let them know that they will submit these responses via a Qualtrics form that will also ask them to fill out some questions about the strategies they have chosen to try to change campus culture.  These answers will become part of the data visualization and will serve as a resource for students who also wish campus culture were different but don’t feel empowered to change it. As a final component of the visualization, students can fill out the permission form that will allow the IDEAL team to upload their written response for other students to read.


One of the most common things that prevents change is called the phenomenon of “false consensus.” This is what happens when a couple vocal people say things like, “Everyone does it” or “That’s just how things work.”  Those arguments create an atmosphere where people assume that this is the way things are, even if they don’t agree with it. When it comes to sexual encounters and how we treat other people, this phrase “Everyone does it” can be particularly damaging, because the majority of people who don’t treat sex that way tend to believe the few people that do, this keeps the silent majority from speaking up and saying that things don’t have to be that way.  By creating these guidelines and making a personal commitment to changing campus culture—and especially by uploading your statements to our online visualization—you are making the statement that, in fact, not everyone does it and it doesn’t have to be that way. You are changing the rhetoric and the culture on campus.