Monday, August 2, 2021

PSUC group to introduce new bystander prevention program

A new Plattsburgh State initiative aims to push students into stopping violence through a new bystander intervention program known as Step UP!

The program will teach students how to properly intervene in situations involving violence and sexual assault as well as help them develop the confidence to take action.

“The purpose of the program,” Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman said, “is to empower our students to intervene in a caring way in an issue they witness.”

The Step UP! program, which was started on the Arizona State campus in 2008 in cooperation with the NCAA, is now being used on hundreds of college and university campuses as well as by other organizations including the United States Air Force and Navy.

The initiative is based on five core steps: noticing the event, investigating the event, assuming responsibility, knowing how to help and implementing help.

Step UP! relies heavily on student involvement. After the decision is made by staff to implement the program on a college campus, a number of students, which is dependent on the size of the school, are chosen to be trained as facilitators.

These students will receive hands-on training from Step UP! directors, facilitator guides and presentations online.

Online training guides and presentations can be tweaked to fit a school or organization’s specific needs and can be adjusted to better address primary issues.

“We know that it works,” said Health Educator and Outreach Coordinator Rhema Lewis, who has spearheaded the program’s introduction to PSUC alongside Hartman.

“Our goal is to teach students how to be proactive, and to give them the skills to intervene.”

Some PSUC organizations have also taken notice of the Step UP! program.

“I think it’s another great tool to keep students safe,” Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Vice President Michael Marvin said.

“Due to the stereotypes that sometimes come with Greek life, I think that the Step UP! program is a good way to ensure that members and non-members are held to a system of standards, and that they are held accountable for their actions,” Marvin said.

The program has recently been kick-started on the PSUC campus, and the group of 10 to 15 students who have signed up to become facilitators are scheduled to go for training in Twin Valleys Sept. 12 and 13.

The program’s official start on campus is planned for the end of September and is tentatively scheduled to include a guest speaker, ex-NFL quarterback Donald McPherson, who is an advocate for the Step UP! program as well as a women’s rights activist.

McPherson was chosen, Lewis said, because of his talented public speaking and his ability to relate to college students.
Hartman said he hopes Step UP! will raise the level of civility of campus so students feel a sense of ownership in their community.

“The overall goal of any intervention program is to change the culture,” he said.

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