UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With a four-day session scheduled for November, the University is continuing to implement bystander intervention instructor certification training as part of its efforts to combat sexual misconduct and create safe campus environments.
The upcoming session will provide training for staff, faculty and administrators who will then be able to offer the program to students and other staff across the University. The workshops focus on providing participants with the skills to recognize potentially problematic situations, step in and diffuse the situations when appropriate, and seek help when needed.
The Bystander Intervention initiative, which will be officially kicked off in January 2016, is part of a University-wide effort to combat sexual misconduct. In February, President Eric Barron accepted 18 recommendations from the Task Force on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, including launching a bystander intervention effort.
“Over the past two years the Bystander Intervention initiative has been preparing a strategic plan with hopes of shifting campus norms around sexual and relationship violence,” said Katie Tenny, Bystander Intervention coordinator. “The vast majority of us are not OK with violence, and yet there continue to be unacceptable rates of it happening to our friends, our peers, our loved ones. We want people to know about options to intervene safely and effectively in these types of situations. Mobilizing peers is just one piece of many efforts that have already been happening at University Park, as well as at Commonwealth campuses.”
The Bystander Intervention training is being done with Green Dot, which provides instructor certification institutes at universities, schools and communities across the country. About 75 faculty, staff and administrators participated in the June program, and 125 are expected to participate in November.
While the initiative is initially focused on sexual misconduct and relationship violence, it will be expanded to include bystander intervention for mental health-related issues, bias-related incidents, and alcohol and drug abuse. It includes offering sessions for students, as well as faculty and staff. Long-term strategic plans also include the introduction of peer-facilitated workshops.
At Penn State Behrend, a presentation following the fall semester’s academic convocation introduced the three D’s of Green Dot — direct, delegate and distract —to more than 1,000 first-year students, giving incoming students the knowledge that they can intervene directly and safely in situations that otherwise might lead to sexual or relationship violence.
“We thought the program had a great deal of potential and would resonate with students,” said Ken Miller, senior director of campus planning and student affairs. "If it prevented one incident of sexual assault or dating violence, then we felt it would be worth the effort to start as soon as possible. Building on the simple premise that as Penn Staters we need to care about each other, Green Dot provides practical training for students, faculty and staff to demonstrate our willingness to look out for one another.”
Miller also serves as the campus committee chair for Green Dot implementation at Penn State Behrend. The college is coordinating a campus-wide launch in January that will include presentations to student organizations, workshops, activities and promotional materials.