AUJS – Daring social experiment tests how students react to racial vilification on campus .

Media Release.                                                                         28 April 2014.


Daring social experiment tests how students react to racial vilification on campus  

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) has launched the results of a bold social experiment that investigates how people react to racial vilification.

BYEstander tested whether students would simply stand by or courageously stand up when they saw an act of hatred being committed.

The project entailed staging scenes of verbal attacks on actors playing Muslim, Asian, and Jewish students at the University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and University of Melbourne.

 “Everyone says they would stand up; of course they would. We wanted to put that to the test,”

said Rosa Zwier, AUJS Campaigns Director.

“It was an ambitious experiment, and we were truly curious to see the results. The film is a celebration of those who stood up, and puts across a strong message about those who did not.”

The social experiment, covertly filmed on multiple cameras, was conducted 23 times. Of those experiments 15 times people stood up; 8 times people stood by.

The project is designed to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014.


The Holocaust entailed some of the worst crimes against humanity ever committed. Millions of bystanders allowed atrocities to continue, however many others showed courage and strength beyond belief.

 “This project is really about taking a positive message from the Holocaust,”

Ms Zwier said.

“It draws on the strength shown by heroes who defended victims during the Holocaust to give a real message that is applicable to students in Australia today.”

To see further footage from the experiment and survivor testimonies that will be posted throughout the campaign, like AUJS on Facebook:

Yom HaShoah is also being commemorated on campuses across Australia and New Zealand. There will also be various events on campus, including speeches by Holocaust survivors, the Courage to Care exhibition, and people sharing personal stories of when someone has stood up for them. In Melbourne and Sydney AUJS is also hosting young political leaders and campus student representatives at Holocaust museums.



Rosa Zwier, AUJS Campaigns | 0414 678 590 |

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One comment

  1. 1/3 didn’t do anything in a country where there is no threat of retaliation. Under threat duress and coercion from a government and military it would greatly drop.