Last week, a majority of the first-year class attended the Bystander Intervention Training (BIT) seminar in the Chapel. It was only an hour long, but covered quite a bit of information. We first viewed a video that showed various types of bystanders that could have prevented an intoxicated girl from being raped. The video played through the story, then wound itself back, stopping at each bystander to show what he or she could have done to prevent the assault. Bystanders ranged from friends to strangers on the street witnessing the protagonist’s clear intoxication.
I found the video quite powerful and thought it did a good job of illustrating the different types of bystanders and intervention that they can provide. After the video, we were to discuss amongst ourselves how to deal with different scenarios listed in the power point. The Chapel became quite animated, but the peripheral conversations I heard were not related to the exercise.
My neighbors were not particularly interested in having a discussion either. The lack of interest seemed to be a recurring pattern throughout the talk; people weren’t too keen on participating. Instead, some chatted about how they could be doing homework during this time (yeah, that’s what you would have used this time to do) or just complained about the seminar being a waste of time.
My hope is that not everyone felt that way, but I don’t know, I am only relaying what I observed. Personally, I thought the talk was a little dry; however, I still saw the value of it. Sure, people may think ‘I wouldn’t let my friends get into those kinds of situations,’ but the reality is that we don’t have complete control over others. I am glad to be attending a university that is proactively working towards a safer campus. Sexual assault, or assault of any kind, is a serious matter.
Recently, a “prank” video on YouTube was called out for being considered sexual harassment. Responses on Twitter and other social media suggest that a YouTube prankster decided it would be funny to make a video of “accidentally” grabbing the butts of female strangers. When stated like this, I think the concept sounds quite despicable; however, there are some people, male and female, who supported the prankster’s video. They believed people were being too serious and “it was only a joke.” Assuming there was a camera-person, why didn’t zhe intervene and tell the YouTube artist that the “prank” was a bad idea? Maybe if the camera-person had participated in bystander intervention training, zhe would have.
I truly do believe seminars like the Bystander Intervention Training and talks that remind us to break away from social misconceptions are important. Perhaps had the Bystander Intervention Training been conducted in smaller sessions, like within our individual Link groups, people would have treated it with