Street harassment, also known as “cat calling,” is an uncomfortable issue many students often encounter not only in East Lansing, but also throughout the world.
Website leader and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities senior Kat Stuehrk said Hollaback! East Lansing is a way for students to take direct action in the community against the issue.
Blog entries range from cat-calling of females to implementing physical harm on LGBT residents.
Residential College in the Arts and Humanities junior Ryan Parr was one of the first students to share his personal experience of street harassment on the blog.
He said he was walking to the Union with his friend one day to purchase ice cream when he was verbally harassed by a young man in his car on the corner of M.A.C. and Grand River avenues.
The man leaned out of his car window and yelled out an offensive comment pertaining to Parr’s sexuality, which was not specified in the blog post.
Parr posted his experience on the blog, saying he stood up for himself in front of the young man.
“I yelled ‘f*** you’ and then walked the rest of the way to the Union,” Parr said in the blog entry.
Parr heard about the website from Stuehrk and said he was perfectly comfortable sharing his personal experience with others.
He said he wanted to use his stories to change the environment around him and make people aware of how their harassment affects others. He also wanted to showcase that street harassment exists and to point out the fact that those who are harassed are not alone.
Stuehrk said it is common for victims to feel powerless and “freeze up” in a street harassment situation.
The website is a way for victims of street harassment to take some of the power back into their own hands, she said.
Stuehrk also said the website has a support button called “I’ve got your back” that visitors can click on if they relate to the story.
Parr said he received more than 25 clicks of support on his blog entry.
“It’s good to see it’s reaching someone,” he said.
Website director and comparative cultures and politics junior Kyra Stephenson said the website helps educate people who do not realize the negative effects of street harassment.
She said the website gives those affected by street harassment a chance to share their experiences to empower them.
The website is available as a free smartphone application.
Stuehrk said the application is convenient for people to be able to share their stories right away on their phones and get instant support when they might have the most emotions about the incident.
Since its launch, Hollaback! East Lansing has gotten about 10 stories and has continued to get more posts.
Stuehrk said the website team is hoping to see Hollaback! East Lansing expand beyond its website and reach out to even more members of the community.
“Next year, we are hoping to do community events, like a film screening or a march,” Stuehrk said.