A new student organization at Oakland University is taking a step to combat bullying. Students Against Bullying (SAB) aims to bring attention to the issue of bullying at all educational levels and eradicate it.
Tara Michener, a graduate student in the Counseling Department at OU and an established children’s book author, founded the group in the summer of 2011 because she wanted to take action against bullying.
“I think it’s great to research and talk about (bullying),” Michener said, “but it’s even better to do something about it.”
Dr. Michael P. Chaney, an associate professor and coordinator of addictions specialization at OU, is the faculty advisor to the group. He believes that this organization will be a good resource for students to reach out about any encounters with bullying they might have had.
“I think students come to college to learn, not to be bullied or end up a suicide statistic,” Chaney said. “Students need a safe place where they can talk about their bullying experiences and I think this group is a great opportunity for that.”
Although bullying may be thought of as something that kids in elementary, middle or even high school participate in, SAB believes that it is important to combat bullying on college campuses as well.
Michener explained that bullying could take many forms in a university setting.
“I think that if you live in the dorms, there might be a situation there with a roommate or friends that want you to feel like you are not as good as other people,” Michener said. “I think that if you are in class and maybe you give a wrong answer you might get laughed at. And I do think that a professor could even do that to you and make you feel as if you are not as good as everyone else.”
In the classroom setting, opinion-based discussions may also be a place for bullying to take form.
“If you are in a discussion and there is no exactly right or wrong view, I think that can get heated and turn into bullying if you are not careful,” Michener said. “I do think that at times name-calling can fall into place or people can take things personally and turn things into something that it’s not.”
According to Chaney, bullying could also take the form of cyber bullying or hazing in structured groups such as sports teams, fraternities and sororities.
“(Bullying) on a college campus also looks like physical harassment, verbal harassment, sexual harassment and also racial harassment.” Chaney said.
On Sept. 6, SAB will be hosting a kick-off meeting from 1-3 p.m. at the Fireside Lounge in the OC.
Rhonda Walker, WDIV news anchor and founder of the Rhonda Walker Foundation, will be attending this event.
SAB also plans to organize events during October for National Bullying Prevention Month.
In addition to the events SAB has planned, Michener has developed the “Out of the Box” video series. In these videos, Michener instructs participants to explain how they have been put in a box or had a label ascribed to them and how they are more than what they have been labeled.
“I think that we can be labeled, we can be boxed in, we can be defined in so many ways, but typically when that happens, it limits our true potential,” Michener said. “So we’re going to be going around campus and seeing if people want to do these little videos.”
In the winter, SAB hopes to organize confidential, safe group discussions for students to discuss their experiences with bullying.
As a counseling professional as well as victim of bullying himself, Chaney believes that discussions like these will benefit students.
“For individuals who have been victims of bullying, it’s so important to talk about the experience,” Chaney said. “That’s where the healing really begins.”
OU offers free counseling through the School of Education and Human Services and the Graham Counseling Center.
SAB is looking for individuals who would like to become involved with the student organization.
“We just want people with good heart who really care about this subject and want to be as involved as much as they can,” Michener said. “Everybody’s ‘as much as they can’ is different.”
For more information about the kick-off meeting or on how to become involved with SAB, contact Tara Michener at