Last January, The University of Texas System held a gathering with representatives from the majority of their institutions to discuss a three year grant that would be provided to each university. The grant was designed to help each campus establish a culture of care where bystanders would not stand idly by when trouble reared its ugly head, but rather would choose to intervene for one another.
The UT System’s definition of Bystander Intervention is recognizing a potentially harmful situation or interaction and choosing to respond in a way that could positively influence the outcome. Through the two day gathering we also agreed upon three action steps that would help create this culture of Bystander Intervention. Those steps include: Recognize Potential Harm, Choose to Respond, and Take Action (RCA). We all left the gathering believing that if we intentionally incorporated the message of Recognizing Potential Harm, Choosing to Respond, and Taking Action that all of our stakeholders within the university, would start to care about one another whether we knew each other or not, had the same major, taught in the same discipline or worked in the same department.
Since that meeting in January, we have begun to infuse this Bystander Information into the fabric of our institution. We incorporated the RCA message in three large scale risk education programs, with peer mentors, and also introduced this language with faculty members involved with teaching our Academic Inquiry and Scholarship courses. Our RCA tagline was also introduced to our Class of 2019 during summer orientation. This fall, with the help of some of our staff and students, we named our Bystander Initiative BEAKS UP SPEAK UP and will successfully launch an intervention program in the Spring 2016 semester called Bringing in the Bystander. UTSA is committed to continuing all of the work that has already been done and will continue to be done on a daily basis where student safety and success is at the forefront. We believe that as this Bystander Messaging, through BEAKS UP SPEAKS Up, continues to spread throughout the entire university, we will see culture change and Roadrunners intervening for one another without fail.
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Submitted by —
Jarvis W. Clark