This winter, Leland & Gray has taken on the important task of educating its students on the topics of sexual assault, teen dating violence, consent and bystander intervention. With generous support from the Women’s Freedom Center in Brattleboro and West River Valley Thrives, Leland & Gray was able to bring in Tim Collins, an expert speaker and solo performer. Tim performed a one-man show this February for the entire school in which he played five characters. The setting for his show was a college and he played three students, a brother of one of those students, a professor and an educational speaker. The premise of his show was a sexual assault that took place on campus during a weekend party. A woman was violated and no one stepped in to help, though there were plenty of witnesses. The main character, Brandon, a member of a sexual assault prevention club on campus, agonizes over the assault with his friends, brother and professor. Brandon is stunned when he finally discovers who photographed the incident. We learn from his brother the various reasons why a bystander might choose not to intervene in this situation or a similar one. These include fear of getting harmed or made fun of, insecurity about what exactly they should do to help and the belief that someone else will help instead. In a non-direct way, Tim encouraged students to think about what they would do in a situation like this and to also question whether or not they have contributed to the creation of a culture that has normalized violence and rape. Leland & Gray’s counseling department worked with Anna Mullaney of the Women’s Freedom Center to organize a series of discussions with faculty and students before and after the performance. Advisors stepped up to prepare students for this topic as well as debrief in groups after the fact. Overall, the show was moving and impactful; Tim encouraged all of us to consider the ways in which we contribute to “rape culture” and the normalization of violence toward all people, women in particular.

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