Bystander Intervention makes Campus a Safer Place


Amy Schaffer, FHSU Title IX Investigator, gave a presentation on the importance of standing up for others as a bystander to help prevent sexual assaults last Wednesday. Her presentation was especially relevant since the campus security report, or Clery report, was released by email to all students and faculty at the end of September, which reports on the statistics of sexual assault. Also, the beginning of the semester is a critical time for the safety of college students; the most sexual assaults happen from the beginning of classes to the end of October.

Bystander intervention is a skill that we can all develop to de-escalate situations. 

“When we see a conflict, we are socialized to move away. But what we are trying to do is get people safely involved,” Schaffer said. 

Casually checking in on people who might be in a compromising situation is one way to prevent escalation. Creating a distraction to step into a situation and make a change is another strategy. If you bring more people into a scenario, it can help to de-escalate as well. The goal of bystander intervention is to stay safe, so picking the option that is most fitting to your situation is important. 

Reporting gender-based violence to Title IX officers is an important responsibility for students. 

“I think our campus, like many others, is underreported,” Schaffer said. 

Students can receive help and pursue justice in regards to their situation by reporting. Starting the conversation about our responsibility to prevent sexual violence can make a big difference on our campus. 

“Studies have shown a correlation between sexual harassment and the tolerance of sexist language,” Schaffer said. “The more sexist language is tolerated, the higher chance there is of tolerance of sexual assault.” 

Title IX, as it relates to the FHSU college campus, is a mechanism to provide all students an education free from sexual violence. Title IX provides students with education on gender-based violence, dating violence and bystander intervention to help them cope with these situations. Students should know that they have valuable resources provided by the Title IX group and the FHSU campus to help. 

One of the resources is the LiveSafe app, which provides emergency contacts, a hotline to anonymously report suspicious behavior, a campus repair hotline, and a safe walk feature that allows you to track friends to ensure that they return home safely. Best of all, it is free; and FHSU hopes that its use will help make the campus a safer place. If you experience a situation that violates Title XI, you can report anonymously to any of the Title IX staff.

Jetta Smith, a graduate assistant in the Title IX office, gave an example of a situation where she experienced gender-based violence first hand. While at a bar, she saw a man slip something into a woman’s drink from across the room. To intervene in the situation, she approached the woman and nonchalantly spilled the drugged drink. 

“Inserting yourself in a situation whether or not you know the other person is just the right thing to do,” Smith said. “Had the situation been reversed and she had watched that happen to me, I would hope she would step in. ”

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