Bringing in the Bystander campaign will educate on campus sexual assault

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The Bringing in the Bystander (BITB) program will be presented to students and organizations on campus throughout this academic year as part of the Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program.

The goal is to present the program to 1,000 students by November. Groups can schedule training for themselves at any time with a two- to four-weeks’ notice.

There is also a video competition for those who have gone through the program. This competition was created to engage the students in what they are learning. Students will create a video where a bystander creates a positive impact. An example would be a student taking care of another drunk student instead of taking advantage of them.

Michele Gunkelman, the director of Residential Life, co-wrote the current grant for the program with Cortney Heileman, the adjunct professor of exercise science.

“I want students to understand and be able to create a positive impact in their life and their workplace,” Gunkelman said. “Not only can students prevent sexual assault from happening, but they can create a workplace where it is less likely to happen and make SVSU a safer campus.”

Gunkelman hopes to partner with SVSU athletics and Valley Nights to show the videos created from the video competition.

Many students have already been through the program and have found benefit in it. Emily Wahl, a third-year accounting major, has learned a lot from the program.

“Being a bystander is more than just being a witness to something that happened,” Wahl said. “It takes bravery to be a leader and to take the first step into action to do something about a situation that happened. Particularly, pro-social bystanders must be creative with all other factors taken into consideration. That’s the best way to intervene and project a different outcome that is both safe for the victim and the bystander’s personal safety.”

Jennie Wilcox, a social work junior, not only spoke of the important lessons being taught, but also of how easy it is to get involved.

“Any student can get involved in the program,” Wilcox said. “It doesn’t matter what your major is or what year you are. BITB is beneficial to everyone who wants to join, and the program will also continue to make SVSU be a safer campus. There is not much work that one has to do; the program goes off one’s available schedule, so members who are involved can volunteer as much as they are available to.”

Alina Devoogd, a communications sophomore, also spoke to the importance of the program and what she has learned.

“The program taught me that it’s best to be educated to make effective efforts to help someone else,” Devoogd. “Always step in and do something. … Be educated on it, too. We can’t afford to be ignorant when it comes to the safety of our peers and ourselves.”

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