• Yes Means Yes

    Be an Upstander

    An Upstander is an empowered bystander—someone who actively promotes a culture of safety by standing up and responding when they witness situations that threaten the health and safety of others.

  • How Can I Be an Upstander?

    • Recognize oppressive behavior, including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual violence and abuse
    • Recognize oppressive language and microaggression, including remarks that are racist, sexist, ableist, fatphobic, homophobic, and transphobic, and identify them
    • Think critically about mainstream messages around race, class, bodies, sexuality, abilities, gender, sex, and violence, and challenge them
    • Create a safe environment that is inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations
    • Respect people’s physical space, even in casual situations
    • Define your own identity and do not let stereotypes shape your actions
    • Hold perpetrators accountable for sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence rather than asking victims to prove they were assaulted
    • Join a student or community group working to end violence

    Speak Up If You Notice Someone…

    • Perpetuating myths about sexual violence
    • Using objectifying or degrading language
    • Blaming the victim
    • Saying someone is being too sensitive to a microaggression
    • Objectifying another's body
    • Glamorizing violence, specifically sexual violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and street harassment
    • Telling sexually explicit jokes at the expense of another
    • Making derogatory comments about abilities, bodies, sexual orientations, documentation statuses, and/or gender identities
    • Refusing to take rape accusations seriously

  • Preparing Yourself to Respond

    Many people who witness verbally or physically violent or coercive situations choose not to respond because they think it isn’t their responsibility or business, that someone better prepared to deal with the situation will step in, that the aggression will subside without intervention, or that is unsafe to do so. It is important not to judge the reasons why some individuals choose not to intervene and instead prepare ourselves so we will know how to handle a troublesome situation when it arises. We are more likely to step up if we figure out what to say or do in certain situations in advance, so take some time to role play common scenarios in your mind or with a friend.

  • How to Respond in the Moment

    • If you are comfortable, ask in a respectful manner for the behavior to stop.
    • Protect the target of the abusive behavior. Ask the person if they are okay or want you to call for help.
    • Explicitly state the behaviors you will not tolerate (e.g., this is a "no put down" zone)
    • Set limits and follow through with them (e.g., "Do not tell [rape-related, racist, sexual, -phobic, etc.] jokes in my presence anymore; if you do I will leave.").
    • Do not accept minimizing, deflecting, blaming the target, or excusing the behavior.
    • If someone has just been assaulted, help them get to a safe place and access care.
    • Report it: Sexual violence of any kind is a violation of The New School Sexual Misconduct and Violence Policy and the laws of the State of New York, and acts of bias and discrimination are violations of the university Code of Conduct. If you discover that a New School student feels he or she has been discriminated against for any reason, you should advise him or her to contact Student Rights and Responsibilities at 212.229.5349 x3653.
    • If you feel unsafe approaching those directly involved, don’t. Pausing to assess your safety and the situation is often the best course of action.

    Responding to Street Harassment

    Hollaback, a community-based organization that works both locally and globally to end street harassment, has identified the 4 Ds to being an empowered bystander. The harassment you witness, however, may not be street harassment, in which case your role as an empowered bystander may have to be more nuanced.

    Direct action

    Directly intervene by asking the harasser to stop bothering their target. If something you witness is offensive to you, and you believe it offends others, you can speak to the situation from your own perspective without bringing in anyone else.


    Take an indirect approach, by engaging the target with neutral language (say hello, ask for directions) to de-escalate the situation.


    Seek outside assistance to intervene in the situation, including seeking assistance from authority figures like police, transit workers, and offices dedicated to addressing workplace harassment.


    Wait for the situation to pass and check in to make sure the target is OK. Discuss the situation with the victim and direct them toward resources if they are interested. Even if you are unable to intervene at the time, checking in later can have a positive impact.