Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bystander intervention approaches in other shores

Leela M., who works on campus diversity related issues at a university in Southern California, attended the community cafe. She gave us her thoughts on how they are tacking the issue of bystander intervention at their university campus. Thank you Leela for sharing your views!

Tonight I was pleased to be able to attend the first event in Prajnya's annual 16 Day Campaign against Gender Violence - a "Community Café" focusing on bystanders. This is an issue of great interest to me - over the past two years, we have been employing a focus on active bystanders on our campus in southern California in the U.S.A. Our goal is to address sexual violence while creating a more equitable and harassment-free environment.

On our campus, we have been conducting workshops with all our student leaders to nudge them towards becoming active bystanders. As Prajnya Coordinator Anupama Srinivasan explained tonight, in order to end gender violence and generally create a more hospitable climate, we all need to play a role. We have our students practice intervening in progressively more difficult situations, from responding to negative name-calling through interrupting when they fear a sexual assault may occur. We know that getting this message across to all students, faculty and staff will take time; however, we knew we were making progress when students asked to have a monthly recognition for "Active Bystander of the Month" with nominations coming from the students themselves.

Moving from bystander to active bystander is not easy but it pays great dividends in moving towards a community response to ending sexual violence. As Prajnya notes in their handout on being an active bystander: "Pledge to never be a silent witness to gender violence".

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