What does it mean to, ‘be a better human’? Is it about improvement in our behaviour, knowing right from wrong or being more understanding and empathetic with others? Well, it’s all of the above and much more. In 2017, a group of students from Flinders University Student Association in South Australia asked these questions and the answers and discussion resulted in the, “Be A Better Human,” campaign. They took a stand and decided that it’s time to ask those difficult questions to each other and have these discussions because we shouldn’t shy away from topics like consent, sexual assault and harassment, bystander intervention and rape culture.

Talking about stuff like this isn’t easy as everyone knows but the, “Be A Better Human,” campaign makes it easy to follow and non-confrontational for people, it even makes it fun. Its aim is to spread awareness and encourage discourse amongst peers in a relaxed way.

One of the most important parts of the campaign is its discussion around the culture and attitudes that shape the way we all think about sex and consent, especially at a tertiary education level. It’s about how we can create a culture, not only at university but in our everyday lives, which prevents it happening in the first place. At the heart of the campaign are three simple words: consent, respect and empathy. These three words form the action points they suggest starting at, these being:

  1. Talk about and engage in ideas surrounding affirmative consent – that it’s voluntary, enthusiastic and continuous.
  2. Respect each other – women, men and gender diverse people – their rights, their identity and autonomy.
  3. Show empathy for your fellow student and their lived experience and be an active bystander to ensure they are okay.

It’s important to acknowledge and be critical of the ways our society perpetuates stereotypes and sexist behaviours and what we can do to educate ourselves in doing something about it. They ask us to think about how can you help women on campus to feel safe and empowered? How can you encourage men to express their emotions in a healthy way? How can you be an ally of the ‘Be A Better Human’ campaign and be the change we all want to see in our community?

Here at La Trobe, Abood the LTSU President and I will be spearheading the campaign and these questions for La Trobe Bundoora students with the university’s support. There will be a rollout of merchandise and information booklets throughout Semester 1 available across all campuses, starting in O-Week! I hope you can join us on this journey of reflection, critical thinking and personal growth to make La Trobe University an even more inclusive space for its students. One by one, conversation by conversation, group by group, let’s make the community an even better place.

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