We are all part of the Clemson University community. But what does that mean? What, exactly, is community? You can find many different interpretations, but community may be defined as a group of organisms living in the same area and interacting with each other. But community also implies helping and looking out for one another, as well as sometimes taking active care of one another. This mean stepping up and intervening when you see someone who needs help or when you witness an inappropriate, harmful or potentially harmful event, such as:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Someone who is a risk to oneself or others
- nappropriate joking
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Interpersonal and gender-based violence
Research on bystander intervention has produced a great number of studies showing that the presence of other people in a critical situation reduces the likelihood that an individual will help. When there is only one bystander in an emergency, help is more easily given because it is clear who has the responsibility to intervene. When there are multiple bystanders present, the diffusion of responsibility is distributed amongst a group. This leads to individuals feeling less responsible to help a victim.
If you witness something that is not right or see someone who needs help, choose to be an active bystander and intervene.
BEING AN ACTIVE BYSTANDER
There are many resources on campus, but you play an important role in helping your friends get to those resources.
- Notice an occurrence out of the ordinary.
- Decide in your “gut” if something is amiss or unacceptable.
- Ask yourself, “could I play a role here?”
- Assess your options for giving help.
- Determine potential risks for taking action.
- Decide whether to act now or later.
Being an active bystander doesn’t always mean a superhero act but can be as simple as saying you do not agree with a discriminatory and/or derogatory statement or action or even standing up against hazing. Being an active bystander is intervening in any situation that you determine may put others at risk and you have the ability to make a difference.
STRATEGIES FOR STEPPING UP AND INTERVENING
Bystander strategies could include:
- Creating a distraction to help someone get out of any type of uncomfortable situation. Distractions could be spilling something, “accidentally” turning off the lights or asking to take a picture.
- Directly informing someone that what they are saying is offensive.
- Walking a friend over to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Redfern if they have shared they are struggling.
- Taking a person’s keys away after they have been drinking.
Other ideas on how to begin a bystander conversation in a non-medical emergency could be asking:
- “I have noticed that you have not been hanging out with us much lately. Is something going on?”
- “I have not seen you in class lately. Is everything okay?”
RAVE GUARDIAN APP
Rave Guardian is an app designed to keep you safe on and off campus by providing your location and status to specified family and friends, as well as to police and emergency services. The app also allows you to send anonymous tips to police about suspicious activity. To learn more and download the app, visit clemson.edu/cusafety/cupd/rave-guardian/.