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Being a BADASS Active Bystander

CC students are so BADASS.  Not only are they smart, driven, and adventurous, but they also care about the community they live in.  Rather than being passive bystanders when they witness troubling behavior, they strive to be active bystanders who take action to make sure that CC is a safe, accepting, and fun place to spend four years.  Being a BADASS means Being Aware, Deciding to Act, and Saying Something.

There are many situations that would call for a BADASS active bystander, including disrespectful or abusive behavior, homophobic, racist, or sexist jokes, discrimination, risky behavior resulting from substance use, or taking advantage of power imbalances (like status, size, or level of inebriation).  The BADASS Campaign focuses on three areas:  preventing sexual and relationship violence, responding to people in distress, and creating an inclusive community.  

Being a BADASS doesn’t have to be dramatic.  It can be as simple as saying something like, “Are you OK?” or “Can I talk to you for a sec?” or “That’s really not cool.” 

Some keys to safe bystander action are:

  • Safety in numbers:  Identify others who could help you (i.e., friends, party host, RA, police)
  • “I” statements:  The conflict resolutions skills you learned in elementary school really do work.  “I” statements focus on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person and include three parts:  (1) state your feelings, (2) name the behavior, and (3) state how you’d like the person to respond.
  • Bringing it home:  Showing someone how the impact of their behavior would feel if directed at them or someone they care about prevents them from dehumanizing the target of their behavior. (i.e., “I hope no one ever talks about you like that.”)
  • Be a pal:  Reframing the intervention as your attempt to help someone be successful/stay out of trouble.  (i.e., “As your friend, I gotta tell you that the way you treat women at parties is not helping your reputation.”)
  • Distraction can be the action:  Distraction can keep things from happening, and snap people out of “comfort zone” behavior that come from sexism, homophobia, or racism.

The Wellness Resource Center and other campus offices like The Butler Center offer workshops and trainings to learn the skills it takes to be a BADASS.  You can also check out issues of the BADASS Quarterly here:

BADASS quarterly1 image   BADASS newsletter2  BADASS newsletter3  BADASS newsletter5

 The following are real stories of CC students taking action:

“I told my boyfriend to stop using the word ‘gay’ to describe inanimate objects because they don't have a sexual orientation.”

“I was really worried about a friend who’d had too much to drink and was looking really out of it.  I took him to Boettcher to get checked out and they were able to make sure that my friend was safe.”

“I asked a friend to go to the bathroom with me when it looked like she might be taken advantage of.”

“I stepped in when my friends were saying to our African-American friend that he was not actually ‘black’ because he didn't ‘act black.’ I explained that if he is OK with us classifying him as a color, then his skin color is actually ‘black’ and that a skin pigment was not a personality trait that someone did or didn't have. White and black describe looks, not personality types, and saying someone isn't ‘black’ because he doesn't act like it doesn't make sense.”

“I told my guy friend not to hook up with my girl friend because she was too drunk and he would enjoy it more if it was actually consensual and they both remembered it the next day.”

“At a campus event one night, I only had one drink, but acted really drunk and was blacked out for about five hours. My friends recognized that something was not right, so they stayed with me and made sure that I was safe.  In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that some kind of drug was put in my drink.  I’m so grateful that my friends were observant and took care of me!”

We’d love to hear your stories of being a BADASS!  Send them to or