By Maeve O’Keeffe
As the new semester begins, you might feel motivated to ‘hit the ground running’ with college work. One new year’s resolution definitely worth your time before your academic timetable gets too hectic is the participation in the Bystander Intervention programme. The time and effort needed to complete bystander intervention training is minimal, but the messages you will learn are invaluable. There are four self-directed workshops that you can complete in your own time, at your own pace, followed by a live workshop to reflect with others on the value and learning outcomes of the programme. Following this, you can complete a reflective response in the form of an essay, or a more creative medium like artwork or poetry. This won’t be graded, it’s just a means to consolidate all that you will have learned through the bystander training, and to show the impact that participation in the programme has had one you personally. You can register on Canvas, and upon completion, you will be awarded a digital badge that won’t look to shabby on your LinkedIn profile, but more importantly, you will be equipped with a set of practical skills to prompt some badly needed cultural changes to create a safer campus and world for everyone.
To encourage more students and staff to get involved, I reached out to students and ambassadors who can speak to the value of the Bystander Intervention programme.
Mair Kelly, vice president of the societies executive, responsible for public relations and media:
“I did Bystander Intervention Programme in my own time during lockdown 1. Although I’ve never been afraid to speak out or stand up, I didn’t really feel like I knew how to properly intervene in some situations or properly prevent them and wanted to ensure that I knew how to best react if and when the need arose. I’ve found the Programme has given me much more confidence in being an active bystander but also what to do if it’s not safe to intervene. It taught me the little things you can say, or actions you can take early on to prevent anything, as well as what steps to take if you see something happening.
What I like about the programme was how it provides not only practical steps and actions, but information and research debunking myths and misconceptions. I’ve found this really useful whether I see something happening in the city, in college or just in challenging people’s language and actions. While the focus is on sexual assault and harassment, the toolkit is applicable to so much, and it’s definitely relevant for everyday life, advocating for change and raising awareness.
In an ideal world we wouldn’t have the need for Bystander Intervention Training, because the issue wouldn’t exist. However, it’s still a really big issue in our society, one that doesn’t receive enough support and attention from decision makers. I’d really encourage any person to take a look at the programme, you can do it all at once or one a week. Whether you’re new to the topic or very familiar, you’ll definitely come away learning something beneficial.”
Tadgh Connery, final year Applied Psychology student and class representative:
“This course has given me the opportunity to become an active Bystander and lead by example for those around me. I felt empowered, even in the minutes following my workshops, to be better than I was before I begun.
I am incredibly proud of myself for having completed this module; I know that I can be a part of the positive change within our university campus. I know that I will continue to promote the legacy of being an Active Bystander throughout all points of my academic journey, into my future career and indeed, my life overall.
Reflecting back on the online four modules and the materials available, along with the digital assets and videos, this programme has been really useful for me. Though I was a little nervous about Module 5 being live, I actually found that after the first five minutes I settled in quite well.
This course not only personally helped me, but it gave me the skills to handle certain situations safely over Freshers’ and RAG Week within the Student Community Support.
Recently, I intervened in a situation where a woman I didn’t know looked like she was being harassed by a man. She was visibly uncomfortable, so I went over and said, “Hey Rachel, I didn’t know you were out. How are you doing?” She knew what I was doing and thanked me afterwards. It wasn’t anything dramatic or overboard, but it momentarily broke up the situation, and diffused any risk.
Imasha Costa, Editor in Chief, University Express:
“The Bystander Prevention programme has been one of the best programmes by far, allowing me to realise how, I, like any other person can actively take part in a situation that is not right. Such as racism, hate crime, or calling out someone for their behaviour that could be misogynistic or sexist. Understanding how to intervene is more important than intervening with no supports or a system in place. That’s what this programme has given me, and I encourage you to do it, complete the workshops as it is readily available online. Yes, it did take a while to finish it off, and I ended up doing workshop five when I was back home for the summer, at nine pm due to the time difference. But it was worth it, I was able to understand and most importantly spark up a conversation with others about what it means to be an active bystander, and how to intervene but also when to intervene, and that is when you feel safe enough to do so. Working with Bystander now has allowed me to identify more unacceptable behaviours and know when to call someone out.
I am more aware of what constitutes problematic behaviour and how important it is to be able to identify it, so that it can be stopped. Everyone needs to learn about this, so that we can create a more informed and more responsible society that is safer for all.”