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A university sent out a 'rape prevention' email following a sexual assault on campus. I'm impressed.

Can all colleges everywhere please talk about sexual assault prevention like this?

A university sent out a 'rape prevention' email following a sexual assault on campus. I'm impressed.

A sexual assault was reported on a college campus last week.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults on college campuses aren't all that unusual. And this one sounds pretty familiar: A student reported that she was assaulted in a dorm by someone she knew. It happened at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The university sent out an email informing the school community.

Under the Clery Act, colleges are required to inform students of crime on and around campus.

Take note of this part of the email:

Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim. While nothing is failsafe, here are some suggestions everyone may want to consider:
- Make sure you have consent. Consent is a clear and freely given yes, not the absence of a no.
- People who are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs cannot give consent.
- Practice being assertive about your boundaries.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy or sense something is wrong, call for assistance.
- Be active in supporting a safe and respectful community. If you see others engaging in disrespectful or inappropriate actions, speak up and get involved, or contact someone else to assist.




Among the tips on how to avoid sexual assault are two incredibly important points: One must ensure they have consent, and a person who's incapacitated cannot give consent.

And that follows the reminder that sexual assault is never the victim's fault.

I know this shouldn't be a big deal, but let's be honest: It is.

Over and over, when we talk about how to avoid sexual assault, we list all the things potential victims can do to avoid being raped instead of what potential rapists can do to avoid raping.

It's not a subtle difference. And yes, while it's wise to know how to keep ourselves safe, we also have to stop blaming victims.

Blame-shifting in action

I reached out to the UW police department to ask about the email. Spokesman Marc Lovicott explained:

"We've always operated under the assumption that a sexual assault is never the fault of the victim. Ever. And I'd like to think that most police departments operate the same way. That said, we realized we needed to do a better job of clearly conveying that message to our community, while at the same time offering tools for our community to consider."

They're looking toward solutions, not just talk:

"We took time over the last year to reconstruct and develop these messages/suggestions so they're actually useful. You'll notice some are suggestions aimed at an alleged perpetrator, and that's intentional. ... We needed to do more to get the message across that sexual assault is not acceptable. But how do we do that without just blatantly saying 'Don't sexually assault someone'? It sounds sort of silly, because everyone knows — or should know — that sexual assault is wrong. So what suggestions can we offer? We focused on consent — what is and isn't consent, and the lack of consent when someone is incapacitated. The more we push out messages about getting consent, alcohol use, etc. ... the better."

I hope this email is indicative of an entire culture change that shifts the responsibility for rape to where it belongs: the perpetrator.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."