What is ‘bystander intervention’?

  • To put it formally, bystander intervention is prosocial behaviour used to intervene in negative situations. What that looks like in practice is saying or doing something when you see someone around you say or do something that is damaging to our community. This project is specifically working on bystander intervention as a means to tackle gender based violence (sexual harassment, violence, assault) but don’t let that limit you! Bystander intervention is a great means to tackle issues of racism, islamophobia, ableism, or other discriminatory behaviours you see.

How do you do it?

  • Intervening in a situation can be everything from stepping up when a situation is escalating to something aggressive, whether that’s in person or by calling security/the police to the much more simple act of calling out a friend if they make a racist/sexist joke. At the end of the day if we don’t challenge the ‘little things’ or microaggressions we aren’t able to address the ‘big issues’ of violence.

The campaign

  • Since bystander intervention is a strategy that can be used by everyone everywhere, we are launching a campaign as part of the university’s response to the UUK ‘Changing the Culture’ report to encourage all students to understand and engage with bystander intervention, specifically using an online training to empower our student leaders to use bystander intervention and pass it on to the student groups they organize. In order to make this campaign a success however, it has to start within our Union.

Why staff?

  • In order to encourage a culture change across the university, this campaign needs the support and understanding of all our Union staff. From the student staff in central to the office, it’s going to take all of us to make bystander intervention and challenging the culture of harassment that our campus (like every other campus across the country) is facing. To set an example and support the student leaders we’re asking to complete the training, I’m asking you, the leaders of our union (the leaders of our student leaders?) to do it as well. It’s less than an hour of your time, and it sets the groundwork for an incredible change across Lancaster.

How do I do it?

  • In the next few weeks the online training will be made available online. I’m asking you to complete it before the end of September, so before our students and student leaders come back. In the meantime, I’ll be doing my best to keep you all updated on this campaign and how it fits in with your job!

If you have any questions or ideas about bystander intervention, the campaign, project, or UUK report, please talk to Alex.