Bringing In the Bystander

By Beverley Catlett, Doug Cleary, and Tucker Jackson
Contributing Writer

On September 26 and 27, The University Wellness Center, in conjunction with the Cornerstone Initiative, hosted ‘Bringing in the Bystander’ a sexual misconduct prevention workshop. The two-day session took place in the EQB and was led by Robert P. Eckstein and Caroline Levya, professors at the University of New Hampshire.

The workshop is defined as “A Prevention Workshop for Establishing a Community of Responsibility.” The session was split into two four-hour programs over two days. Participants were led through a variety of role-plays, discussions, and scenarios in order to promote pro-social bystander behavior in the community. The training not only certifies those who participated to lead sessions on Bystander Intervention, but also to train new trainers. Arthru Ndoumbe (C’16) commented, “We already have planned future programs to train new people. That’s the point of the program: to train new people. It’s going to grow and adapt at Sewanee.”

The program defines Bystanders as “individuals who witness emergencies, criminal events or situations that could lead to criminal events and by their presence may have the opportunity to provide assistance, do nothing, or contribute to the negative behavior.” Pro-social Bystanders are “individuals whose behaviors intervene in ways that impact the outcome positively.” By building skills such as recognition of inappropriate behavior, recognition of a situation as a problem, role modeling, and victim empathy, the program sought to develop successful facilitators.

‘Bringing in the Bystander’ differs from other sexual violence prevention programs in that it focuses on sexual violence prevention in a broader community context and attempts to overcome resistance and defensiveness of participants. Ndoumbe went on to stress the importance of empathy within the community, “The program stressed that if you see someone who is uncomfortable, you should have enough empathy to not say ‘that’s none of my business.’ That’s the part of the program I thought was effective.”