Introducing bystander intervention training: the nationwide call to respond to sexual assault on college campuses
Through our Office of the Dean of Students, Purdue Calumet is introducing bystander intervention training this week, designed to encourage and prepare faculty, staff and students to intervene and effectively respond to high risk situations, including sexual assault.
Fifteen staff, faculty and graduate assistants participated Thursday (5/15) in a “Train the Trainer” program to learn how to facilitate on campus the training called Step Up. As part of the Indiana Campus Sexual Assault Primary Prevention Project, Step Up focuses on:
- ways bystanders can become more observant and recognize troubling behaviors that may require intervention, and
- valuable skills for safe and effective intervention.
Exceeding federal responsibility
As a public university Purdue Calumet must demonstrate Title IX compliance with the Violence Against Women Reauthorized Act, signed into law by President Obama. The legislation imposes new obligations on colleges and universities relative to the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act provision.
“Purdue University as a system is being very proactive, and our campus is going beyond what Title IX mandates, including the introduction of an advocate program to assist students through the investigation process,” Dean of Students and Professor Lisa Goodnight said, adding that over the next year, all campus individuals will have opportunities to receive the Step Up bystander intervention training.
Director of Student Assistance and Conduct Andrew Pettee will direct Step Up, which is offered at hundreds of colleges and universities nationally. Pettee, who came to Purdue Calumet two months ago, also is a trained investigator in sexual assault matters.
Recognizing high risk, power-based situations
“The training is a five-step process to enable individuals to recognize high risk, power-based situations and relationships resulting from stalking, coercion, alcohol abuse, sexual attacks and other behaviors,” he said. “The idea is to get students, faculty and staff to rally behind the importance of stepping up and proactively intervening.”
Colleges and universities across the country that have implemented programs geared toward education and action see an increase in reports of sexual assault. This is due to the community’s increased knowledge and awareness of power-based personal violence.
Following this week’s ”Train the Trainer” session, Purdue Calumet will host the first Step Up bystander intervention training session May 30 for athletes, student employees, residence assistants and other student leaders.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a list of 50+ colleges and universities being investigated for possible federal law violations in response to sexual violence and harassment complaints. Purdue Calumet is not on the list.
The Purdue Sexual Assault Policy
Purdue University’s policy regarding sexual assault can be found in the policy RE: Anti-Harassment (III.C.1).
The policy states that:
- “Any act of sexual violence, including but not limited to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion” is considered sexual harassment and is therefore unacceptable conduct that will not be tolerated.
- All Purdue community members — faculty, staff and students — are encouraged to report and address any incidents of harassment.
- Acts of retaliation against faculty, staff and students who report or file a complaint of harassment or who assist or participate in the investigation of a harassment complaint are strictly prohibited.
- Any individual or group that violates the policy will be subject to disciplinary or remedial action, which can include termination of employment or expulsion.
- Disciplinary action for violation of the harassment policy can be enhanced if the harassment is found to have been motivated by bias based on race, gender, religion, color, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information or disability.