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Be an Active Bystander

As a final project in a Women and Gender Studies 150: Insights and Implications, we decided to make public service announcements about gender-based violence (GBV). There are similar projects directed towards this cause through the White House website. We wanted to add our voice to the cause because of the immense problem sexual harassment has become on college campuses. Everyone in our class has gone through Active Bystander Intervention Training, or PACT training, and believe it can make a huge impact on college campuses in preventing sexual assault.

The three public services announcements we created include persuasive information and steps the general population can take to prevent sexual assault. We wanted to change the mindsets of our current students and challenge them to break the silence against sexual assault by being active bystanders.

The first PSA, created by Natalie Volavka, features national statistics and statistics from Winona State University. While 1 in 5 college aged women are sexually assaulted nationally, only one person at Winona State University has reported being sexually assaulted. This shows just how few survivors choose to report their sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the GBV Confidential Hotline at 507.457.5610 for help and support.

The second and third PSAs, created by Logan Wescott and Emily Brandt, focus on the small changes individuals can make that produce a world of a change. The third PSA does this from a male’s perspective and depicts how important males are in this movement in becoming active bystanders.

Step up, and stand actively against sexual assault at Winona State University.

–Emily Brandt, Natalie Volavka and Logan Wescott

Traipsing Through Tinder: Comparisons & Conclusions

This blog post is a continuation of Traipsing Through Tinder and contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

At the end of the experiment, we went through the messages each profile received and we noticed something incredibly eye opening. In more than one case, the same user sent each profile a message that was completely different than what they had sent the other profiles. Instead of being authentic and trying to get to know the person behind the profile, they catered their message to characteristics they assumed based on false stereotypes.

For example, the same user who messaged the goth profile the chat on the left, sent the mainstream profile the chat on the right three days later:

a sexually explicit Tinder message   a respectful Tinder message

When we created the party girl profile, he sent her this:

a sexually explicit Tinder message

Another profile sent messages to the goth profile, the mainstream profile and the party girl profile. The three messages had very different tones:

a sexually explicit Tinder message a respectful Tinder message
a sexually explicit Tinder message

The Survey

Our group also decided to survey Winona State University students on their experiences with Tinder and had 82 responses. 80% of respondents had personally used Tinder before. When asked how their experience had been with the application, 23% reported it had been positive, 58% said it had been neutral, and 18% had a negative experience. Respondents gave several reasons for their experience ratings. Some enjoyed it for its entertainment value, some to find another person to hook up with while others had met their significant others on the app. There were also those who hadn’t had the best experience with the application but said their experience also hadn’t been awful.

The next question we asked participants was if they had ever received a message on Tinder that made them feel uncomfortable. 55% responded that they had received a message that made them uncomfortable, 41% reported that they had not received a message that made them uncomfortable and 3% reported that they were not sure. When asked how they responded to those messages, the most popular response was that they ignored the message and either unmatched or blocked the user that sent it to them. A small portion would tell their friends about it as well.

We also asked participants if their friends had received any messages that made them feel uncomfortable. 67% reported that their friends had received a message that made them uncomfortable, 8% said that their friends had not received a message like that, and 23% said that they were not sure. We asked them how their friends would respond to the messages and the responses were the same as before: ignore, block, unmatch and tell their friends about the messages they received.

Our Conclusions

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t want to scare you away from online dating. It can be great. What became clear to us in this experiment is that when you take away respect and consent, what you get isn’t so great. By putting people in boxes you not only deny them their humanity, you deny yourself the ability to get to know the person behind the profile. If we’re going to end sexual harassment online, it’s time we stop just blocking users who make us uncomfortable and start confronting them. First, inform them that what they did that made you feel uncomfortable or harassed. If that doesn’t work (and it might not), here are some creative ways to get your message across:

If all else fails, then you can block them. Protect yourself. Your safety matters more than their feelings.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle

Traipsing Through Tinder: Mainstream Student

This blog post is a continuation of Traipsing Through Tinder and contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

a mainstream female college student

“Hello I’m Sam. I’m a nursing student at WSU. I love my friends, family, and music. Coffee is my lifeline. I spend way too much time watching Netflix. Shoot me a message if you’re looking for new people to talk to!”

With a combination of common characteristics among our friends, our group created the “mainstream” college persona. We chose pictures of our friend, Andie Mattei, where she had minimal makeup and plain, casual clothing. The responses weren’t all that surprising. In exchange for a little of the “mainstream” profile’s time, many users offered up Netflix marathons and cuddling. The “mainstream” tinder profile received 116 messages. Of those messages, 3 were strange, but harmless:

Mainstream Weird Reply 1    a strange but harmless Tinder messagea strange but harmless Tinder message

11 of the messages were either explicit in nature or could be classified as obsessive:

 an obsessiveTinder message  a sexually explicit Tinder message a sexually explicit Tinder message

51 of the messages were respectful and commented on the content of the profile and not just the user’s looks. These responders took the time to read the profile and offer a friendly attempt to become acquainted with the “mainstream college student” profile:

a respectful Tinder message a respectful Tinder message a respectful Tinder message

In the next post, see what happened when we debuted the goth lolita profile.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle

Wonderings of Home

Finals are almost over and I know most of us are antsy to get home. For me, I don’t get to leave this tundra till Saturday when I board my flight and fly into La Guardia.

This time in the semester is not only stressful because of exams for me but also because of the hassle of flying. Most of you students live close by, and by close by I mean under 6 hours away. You get to pack up as much luggage as you want and drive back. I have to pack only the necessities and watch the weight limit on my suitcase. But nonetheless, I am excited to get home.

success kid meme

I don’t know what to expect when I get back, though. It’s been 5 months since I left for college. A lot can change in 5 months. My friends have all been at college, on their own, making new friends, getting used to not having me around and I them.

My family hasn’t seen me in a while either, and if Thanksgiving is anything to go off of, I can tell they’re not used to the new, more independent me.

Game of thrones meme

We’ve all changed, whether we know it or not. I’m not the naïve, new college student I once was. I’ve learned in and out of the classroom. And if I’ve learned some new things about myself and about life, then I’m sure everyone has else too. In learning, we adapt to the knowledge we gain, and this means that the friends I knew are not the same anymore.

I’ve thought about what it’ll be like when I get back—hugs and tears from my best friend, dinners at my favorite restaurants, trips into NYC, lazy days at the mall being basic white girls. I don’t have a job waiting for me back home and trying to find one so late into the holiday season is going to be tough.

I’ve come to the realization that those dreams of how it’ll be like when I get home are just that—dreams. My friends all have jobs and I won’t even have my car to go visit them. Now, I’m sure I’ll get to spend some time with them.  I’ll get to hear all about what’s been going on since I left and watch movies with them and see a glimpse of what once was. And maybe everything will be like it was. I have been in contact with them throughout the semester and everything seems fine with our friendships, so who knows?

But whatever the differences in friendships and home life, I will be happy to be back in Connecticut and with people I love. I am sure that you all have friends and family you’re looking forward to seeing,and we should make the most of our winter breaks with them while we can.

–Rachel Adam

Traipsing Through Tinder: Goth Lolita

This blog post is a continuation of Traipsing Through Tinder and contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

a goth girl in regalia and make-up

“I am a woman of mystery and creativity. I am a gothic Lolita with an edge of horror and whimsy. I have 20 piercings at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll add to the collection soon. I am not always serious and tend to joke around. I’m a psychology major at WSU. I love cats, vampires and all things dark. Don’t be shy; I don’t bite.”

For the gothic profile, our group based the personality entirely on Andie Mattei and asked her to write the bio because she is heavily involved with the gothic subculture. We chose pictures where she is wearing her favorite gothic dresses and traditionally gothic make up. Because of the stigma surrounding the gothic community, the “gothic lolita” profile received many messages that were more sexually charged than the messages that were received on the other profiles. It seemed as though the responders saw her more as a caricature of a person rather than a real human who deserved respect. Out of the 65 replies, 15 were disturbingly explicit and referenced “dark sex.”

a sexually explicit Tinder message    a sexually explicit Tinder message a sexually explicit Tinder message

51 of the responses were a mix of typical greetings such as “hey” and “how are you,” and some went as far as to say she seemed interesting and they wanted to get to know her better. They were courteous and didn’t limit her to just her gothic lolita dress.

a courteous Tinder message   a courteous Tinder messagea courteous Tinder message


Now, let’s see how the party girl compares in the next post.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle

Traipsing Through Tinder: Party Girl

This blog post is a continuation of Traipsing Through Tinder and contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

two female college students dressed up to party
“Psych major at WSU. I like to drink and smoke! Looking for new people to party with!!”

We saved this profile for last. Andie didn’t have any photographs that really fit the stereotype of a “party girl,” so with her permission, we used Emily Kaluzny’s pictures. We chose images where it looks like she is out partying and wearing clothes that are more revealing. We kept the bio for this profile short and to the point as we wanted it to look like bios we saw from guys who like partying. 21 of the 224 responses were graphic in nature.

a sexually explicit Tinder message a sexually explicit Tinder messagea sexually explicit Tinder message

Although 21 of the messages were disrespectful, 203 were either simple greetings or genuine inquiries.

a respectful Tinder message a respectful Tinder messagea respectful Tinder message

Looking at the types of responses each of these profiles received from different Tinder users was enlightening in an of itself. However, we gifted with a rare chance for comparison when a few people messaged the mainstream, goth lolita and party girl over the course of a few days.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle


Traipsing Through Tinder

This blog post contains some explicit material that some may find triggering.

the Tinder app on a smartphone

To swipe right or left? That is the question.

We have this friend, who for blogging purposes, we will call Betsy. Betsy is, quite frankly, a connoisseur of online dating. Now, we know what you are thinking, “Online Dating – isn’t that for weird dudes who smell vaguely of cheese and are obsessed with cartoon ponies?” That’s where you, dear reader, are wrong. Online dating has this stigma attached to it that it doesn’t necessarily deserve. Online dating can be fun for just about anyone. As long as respect and consent are involved, you can’t go wrong.

Anyway, back to Betsy. Betsy was well versed in the ways of web-based romance well before Tinder even entered the realm of online dating. Still, when her friends suggested the dating app, she was hesitant. Tinder was different from any dating site she had ever tried before. Tinder is an app for smartphones that is heavily image based with thousands of profiles at your fingertips. In seconds, you decide whether or not you’d like to get to know the user based purely on their profile picture. Sure, you can read their profile, but many users don’t.

(If you’re unfamiliar with Tinder, this article is a quick read that sums it up pretty well.)

Feeling brave, Betsy decided to go for it anyway. At first it was awesome, she met some great people, had some good conversations and generally felt respected. Then she met Fred. Fred spent weeks wooing her. Under the impression that he was a kind, funny person she agreed to meet him. Boy, was she wrong! The date was awkward, tense and genuinely unpleasant. Wait – it gets worse. Fred decided to tweet about Betsy’s body after the date. He wrote, “Never trust a girl who only posts pictures of her face on Tinder.” He later added, “Secret internet fatties are the worst.” No Fred, you are the worst.

When Betsy looked different than Fred had envisioned, the way he treated her drastically changed. He went from nice to nasty in seconds. Although we believe that the way a woman looks should in no way be correlated with the way people treat her, it got our group in WAGS class thinking. We wondered exactly how much the way a woman presents herself online could influence the type of message she receives, even before meeting that individual.

With inspiration from this blog, our group set out to determine how a woman’s identity influences her experience with online dating, especially on Tinder. We made three different profiles based on three different types of women –a goth, a mainstream student and a party girl–to see how other users in the Winona area would respond. My group kept each profile up for four days and swiped yes to every user in order to collect responses from all walks of life.

In the next post, we’ll tell you what we learned about being a mainstream student on Tinder.

–Samantha Atkins, Clare Arvidson and Mike McArdle

12 Reasons You’ll Miss the Dorms

​It’s that time of the year…you’re sick of sharing a small space, and you can’t wait to eat real food for a month. You might be itching to leave your res hall right now, but trust me, you’re gonna miss that place someday.

1. Because having a tiny room isn’t always easy…but on the bright side, cleaning the entire area takes all of four minutes.

Mrs. Doubtfire dances while vaccuuming

2. Because the cafeteria is just a hop, skip and a jump away.
a man skipping

3. Because lofts and bunk beds are cool. Period.

two men dance excitedly

4. Because there’s always a roommate nearby.

a man jumps into another man's arms

5. Because community bathrooms give you many…interesting experiences. Enough said.

woman makes a disgusted face

6. Because fire drills are actually extremely fun. Especially when you have to run outside in your towel. Or footie pajamas. In the dark. In the snow.

Anna from Frozen in the snow

Ok, that’s not really a reason you’ll miss the dorms!

7. Because your room becomes a cave of refuge after a bombed test.

a polar bear slides on the ice

8. Because you have cable so you can split your time between watching TV from your futon and watching Netflix in your bed.

two teens sitting on a couch

9. Because not having a real kitchen means having a stellar excuse for not learning how to cook. And keeping Hostess snacks and Fruit Roll-Ups under your bed.

woman quickly eats popcorn

10. Because living in the res halls is like having a gym membership. Yes, walking up the stairs does count as cardio. And climbing up to your bed does count as weight lifting.

a woman looks faint

11. Because you make the best of friends in the dorms.

two boys give a secret friendship handshake

12. Because no matter what, you’ll thank your tiny room for all the memories.

an actor says thank you at an awards show

–Leah Dobihal

10 Questions Seniors Dread Hearing Over Winter Break

For all that it’s a month of relief from stressful classes, exams and papers, Winter Break can be hard–especially when you’re a college senior. It’s because family members ask you the same questions over and over, and you feel the same panic every time you don’t know the answers…or don’t want to admit them. Here are 10 questions you dread but can expect to be asked in the next few weeks.

1. How’d you do on your finals?

Cam shakes his head "no"

2. Are you going to graduate on time?

a college student looks pained

3. What do you plan on doing with your major?

a man rolls his eyes

4. Have you applied for jobs yet?

a young woman says "what??"

5. Are you going to have to move back in with your parents?

a man gags

6. What do you plan on doing with your LAST winter break?

Buddy the Elf messily eats candy and pasta

7. How’s your GPA?

Britney Spears squints and sighs

8. How long will it take to pay off your school loans?

man looks sad

9. You’re going to work really hard your last semester, right? Finish strong!

man nods sarcastically

10. Are you excited to graduate and leave WSU?

Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo sobs in the desert

–Leah Dobihal

No Joke: Busting the Finals Stress with Comedy

It’s heeeeerrreeee.  It’s the week before finals week and, as I write this, I can feel the campus slowly descending deeper into insanity. The weight of the semester has finally come down on us at once and everyone’s stress levels couldn’t be higher. We’ve lived in denial over mounting to-do list for too long and now it’s time to start replacing homework with vital components of daily life like eating, showering, or breathing.  Now it’s time to roll out a mat on the second floor library and fight off the mounds of papers as theyinnevitablytrytoCONSUMEUSALIVE….

Whoa… Let’s just slow down for a second and take a breath. Finals can take a lot out of you, but they don’t need to take your sanity.  I think we need to spin the dial to the safe where we’ve locked away our joy, and I when stress from my daily life keeps dragging me down I have always turned to comedy for relief.

It’s no joke when people say, “laughter is the best medicine.” In the short term, comedy can lighten the load mentally and actually lead to physical benefits by increasing endorphins, lowering blood pressure and acting as a muscle relaxant.  But you didn’t come here for a biology lecture.  All of these facts that I ripped off from the Mayo Clinic are here to make it clear that comedy simply makes you feel better.

Comedy has always been something I have been passionate about, and I feel there is no better outlet for stress relief than laughter.  Below are my personal favorites of every comedy medium I could think of that can act as an easy resource for you.  If the stress from exams is starting to bring you down, I encourage you to take 20 minutes away from your work and rifle through the lists. These albums, books, movies and websites have never failed to make me laugh, even in the toughest times.  Feel free to disagree with me and get your own list going! You are by no means bound to what I think. There are thousands of others that I wish I could put down, but I would take up the whole week that you should be studying.

Note: Most contain some explicit material, but we’re all adults. Please listen to what you feel comfortable with.

Caleb’s Top Comedy Albums (Free on Spotify)

Favorite Comedy Websites:

Caleb’s Funniest Movies


Good luck and don’t forget to laugh every once in a while!

–Caleb Bednarski