As she watched a man getting shoved to the ground, Caitlin Estudillo sprang from a bench near Powell Library and tried to stop what she perceived as a bullying incident unfolding in front of her.
For the third-year sociology and world arts and cultures/dance student, the act was instinctual.
“I didn’t give it a thought; it was just something I had to do,” Estudillo said. “I didn’t think of the consequences.”
At the time, Estudillo did not know that the conflict was a staged fight designed to gauge how people would react to seeing someone else be bullied. Various simulated bullying incidents were filmed around the UCLA campus for a video by YouTube personality Yousef Erakat called “THE BULLYING EXPERIMENT!”
The video, posted on Dec. 1, garnered more than two million hits in one week. It captured the reactions of people in various instances where Erakat pretends to bully actor Ali Amjad, shoving him to the ground and threatening him in front of people on campus.
In the video, a few students chose to stand up to Erakat and stop the staged bullying in the video, while several others walked away from the pretend bullying without saying anything.
Erakat told viewers that he chose to make the video because he thinks bullying is a major problem for this generation. He wanted to find out both why bullying continues to be a problem and why people do not try to stop it when they see it occurring.
Ian Mok, a first-year mathematics/economics student, said he appreciated the video because it educates students about the seriousness of bullying.
“It conveyed that message that people should really face bullying (and) not just walk away,” Mok said.
After pretending to bully Amjad, Erakat told some students the incident was staged and asked people who did not intervene why they made that decision.
While some refused to answer him, one student said that it was none of his business and that he did not want to get into any trouble.
Jane Lam, a second-year biology student, said after watching the video she was not surprised some people didn’t try and stop the bullying.
“If that happens in front of you, how many people will actually step in and do something and put their life in danger because of somebody else that you don’t know?” Lam said.
Lam said that if she were confronted with a situation like that, she would have escaped first, but would have later tried to help by calling authorities who would be better equipped to handle the situation.
Near the end of the video, Erakat expressed his frustration with students failing to intervene and shouts to the camera that people need to stop acting like “blind victims” and help people being bullied.
Nicolette Morris, a first-year neuroscience student, said she thinks the students who failed to intervene in the video misrepresent UCLA as a whole.
“It just depends on the people they found that walked by at that moment,” Morris said. “It doesn’t mean that most students at UCLA aren’t going to do anything about bullying.”
After watching the video, Estudillo said she could not believe that some students refused to intervene or even acknowledge the situation.
“There are people who are very passive about things. My personality itself is very outgoing and loud, so maybe that’s why I reacted, but I was definitely in shock and didn’t even give it a thought,” Estudillo said.