Meet MARS's Liam White!

This article is a part of Her Campus Northwestern's Sex and Relationships week - a week full of themed articles and content on sex, relationships and female empowerment through your body!

 

To help celebrate Sex and Relationships week for Her Campus, we chose Liam White as this week’s campus cutie who is a member of Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS) at Northwestern, and recently released a survey about sexual assault to allow women’s voices to be heard under the safety of anonymity.

Name: Liam White

Age: 21

Hometown: Wellesley, MA

Major: Anthropology, with minors in Global Health and Portuguese

 

What do you think is the most important thing for people to understand about sex and relationships?

Everyone is going to take different approaches to sex and relationships across different stages of their lives. I’d encourage people to stop and reflect every so often on where they’re at and what kind of relationships they need to get where they want to be. There is a lot of room to better understand yourself and to develop your character that can really only be acquired through intimacy with others.

 

What piece of advice about sex/relationships would you give to yourself as a freshman in college?

Don’t take yourself too seriously, do the things that make you happy, and really focus on enjoying the people around you. Success romantically and more generally will follow.

 

What is it like to be a part of MARS?

Since I first got to campus it has been really valuable for me to be part of a group of men that sees sexual violence as their responsibility to combat. MARS gets the most visibility through peer education work, but a lot of the changes that need to happen to address larger problems like rape culture are at the individual level. Our internal conversations generally focus on thinking about what it means to be a man and trying to educate ourselves on how to be supportive allies. We don’t all share the same vision on how to make the most meaningful impact on campus, but I think that’s healthy; these are complex topics and you have to be open to new approaches.

 

You recently made and released a Sexual Assault Survey. What inspired you to make it?

After Northwestern was reeling from reports of really abhorrent sexual violence a few months ago, the response across the board from fraternities was tepid at best. There simply weren’t enough guys thinking seriously about what they needed to be doing differently so that crimes like these wouldn’t happen again. My chapter president and I got talking and figured that we needed to be bringing programming to our own brothers. I really wanted push my brothers to learn from the experiences of Northwestern women and start a dialogue within the house, and I knew that would require me to collect their stories and insights. It took most of the quarter and tons of valuable feedback from people across campus to create a program we could feel good about, but I’m really glad it came together, and I learned a lot along the way.

 

How has the survey been received?

I got a mix of reactions about the survey, and rightfully so. People’s concerns really had to do with two main things: issues of privacy and the burden to educate. There’s risk involved in revealing experiences you’ve had with sexual violence through an online survey and trusting a guy you might not know to keep that information safe. I’m really grateful to those that did submit responses for having faith in me. The second concern was also totally valid. It should not fall on survivors to educate the community about prevention; they’ve already dealt with trauma they didn’t deserve. Even so, many student survivors have spoken out at marches and other campus programming, recounting their painful memories so that others don’t suffer the same fate. Not a lot of fraternity men made the time to attend those events. All this is to say that skepticism is 100% justified until we consistently show we’re serious about putting an end to sexual violence. At the same time, I also got a lot of support from friends, peers, and even total strangers who saw how important doing this work is to me, and their encouragement kept me going when I hit hiccups or setbacks.

 

What are your plans going forward to continue your work?

The survey inspired a very productive conversation in my chapter where we brainstormed a lot of tangible goals for the future. I wrote those up and sent them out to all the brothers alongside some book and movie recommendations for guys who want to learn more to check out. I see it as my job now to make sure those goals come to fruition and to keep these discussions fresh. I will also be helping out as a breakout session facilitator for the Sexual Health ENU during Wildcat Welcome.

 

Just for fun—describe your perfect date!

We’re headed to a Brazilian samba class to work up a sweat. Then we’ll go blow away the competition at a trivia night and celebrate victory with a large ice cream sundae. Any takers?