by Stephen Moynihan
On behalf of the Motley team, it is my delight to bring you the first article in our collaboration with UCC’s Bystander Intervention Programme. It is the hope of both parties that this partnership will raise the profile of the Bystander Intervention Programme within the student body, lead to a greater number of student participating in the programme, and encourage each and every one of us to become active bystanders and help to reduce and eradicate the issue of sexual harassment and violence on campus and in wider society.
With these goals in mind, several members of the Motley editorial team undertook the Bystander Intervention training before the beginning of this academic year. The training consists of four online training modules, which one can complete on Canvas in their own time. The training modules covered issues ranging from problematic social norms such as “lad culture”; the importance of consent; and the various forms of domestic/relationship violence. Following the completion of these modules, Bystanders take part in an interactive workshop conducted remotely with a member of the Bystander Intervention team via Google Meet. Finally, following the completion of this workshop, Bystanders complete a short reflective piece before receiving their well-earned Bystander Intervention Digital Badge.
The most important and enlightening topic covered, in this writer’s humble opinion, was that of intervention techniques. Here, the power of the active bystander to prevent instances of sexual assault and sexual harrassment was emphasised. It was outlined that intervention can either be indirect, by going to the Gardaí for example, or directly, by confronting the offender or distracting them. Either way, the importance of intervening when safe to do so is highlighted, and its capacity for creating a safer environment is demonstrated through the use of videos and infographics.
Motley’s experience of the Bystander Intervention Programme was strongly positive and a valuable undertaking. We would strongly encourage all students to partake in the Bystander Intervention programme if at all possible.
On a personal note, as an ambassador for the Bystander Intervention programme who identifies as a cisgender man, I would like to reach out to those who self-identify in the same way and emphasise the importance of giving strong consideration to conducting the training and receiving their Digital Badge. An increased level of participation from men is one of the many goals of the Bystander Intervention Programme going forward.
During UCC’s Sophomore Week, Motley spoke to Meig, from UCC’s Sexual Violence Framework, and Martha, a second year Social Work student, who were promoting the Bystander Intervention Programme at a stand near the Student Centre.
Meig praised the increased amount of engagement evident in the UCC community relevant to previous years, especially among males, whilst Martha stated that “a lot of people are coming over, more than I thought they would”.
“It’s great to be on campus, it’s good to interact with students, and they’re excited to hear and talk about the programme”, she added.
In highlighting the importance of the programme, Martha stated that “Bystander shows you that you are not alone, that you are in the majority of people who think something is wrong,.. you just feel like you’re alone. This shows that you are not, and how you can do something that is safe for you and safe for other people”.
“It gives you the tools for all different types of discrimination, harrassment and bullying throughout your course, as well as in the workforce and throughout society. It gives you the tools so you are way more equipped to deal with those situations”, Meig concluded.