You see a couple engaged in an intense fight in the parking lot or a person being sexually harassed. You feel you should step up and help, but you don’t know how. Should you say something, call the police or simply turn away from the situation?
A new program at the U aims to provide bystanders with the tools to intervene in difficult situations, particularly those involving sexual misconduct. The Bystander Intervention program offered by the Center for Student Wellness consists of a two-hour long course where students learn to “step in” and “speak up,” after which they receive a certificate.
The White House Task Force released the Not Alone Report in 2014, which outlined prevention and intervention efforts to protect students from sexual assault. Bystander intervention methods were mentioned, and every federally funded university in the nation must now offer the training. While the U has provided the program to specific student organizations sporadically for the past year, including ASUU and Greek sororities and fraternities, it will now be available to all students.
“It’s been a focus on students leaders,” said Martin Liccardo, a health educator with the Center for Student Wellness. “We want to make sure that students on campus are stepping in and speaking up whenever they can.”
The training begins by educating students about sexual misconduct, after which students engage in skill-building though role-playing and dialogue that teaches them how to intervene.
Besides teaching students to take action when they encounter a problem, the program aims to get students talking about sexual violence and misconduct. The now campus-wide program has been rebranded under the slogan “Step In, Speak Up,” which describes the main goal of the training. It was developed during the summer of 2015.
The training is currently exclusive to students but, if successful, it could be expanded to involve other members of the U community, Liccardo said.
The first certification class will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Union and is free to all students.