Students Stand Up against harassment

Mallory Radney

Stand Up Titans!: Bystander Intervention Workshop encouraged students to advocate for victims of harassment through interactive skits, according to UW Oshkosh graduate student Brittany Magrady. “We as a campus should and can stand up for those who are being victimized or harmed or harassed because it is the right thing to do,” Magrady said. Magrady said the workshop spread awareness about sexual assault and rape by covering the major statistics. It emphasized that statistics aren’t just numbers, but people. “In its essence, the workshop teaches the participants how to prevent sexual assault and gender violence through intervention techniques, as well as how to challenge racism, homophobia, trans-phobia and ableism,” Magrady said. Magrady said the intervention techniques are taught during the workshop through demonstration and practiced through role-playing, which is proven to be the most effective way to teach bystander intervention. “Because we are all living in a rape culture, thoughts that support this culture are present in all of us because society has taught us that this is how things are,” Magrady said. Magrady said the workshop challenged the thought process and stereotypes of rape culture, without shaming participants who hold those ideas. “This workshop challenges those thoughts and helps students transition away from a culture of rape and victim blaming to a culture [of] safety and victim or survivor support, and that this is not how things are or have to be, that we can change it,” Magrady said. Magrady said consent also was another topic covered during the workshop, including what it looks like, what it doesn’t look like and when consent can never take place. “Healthy relationships and abusive relationships are also covered and discussed in this workshop in order to address the issue intimate partner violence and how to safely intervene,” Magrady said. Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center, said a few reasons why the workshop was held are to create a community where everyone feels welcome, to teach people how to do the right thing and because last fall UWO signed up to be part of the White House’s It’s On Us campaign. The It’s On Us campaign is a White House initiative to end sexual assault on college campuses. “One of the key things within the White House’s initiative is that so often we already want to help, it’s just that we don’t know how and we do have so many people on campus who want to do the right thing,” Murray said. “But we never actually sit down and talk about what bystander intervention looks like.” Murray said for the people who are ready and eager to be allies, they want to make this an easy process for them. “Bystander intervention is a practice,” Murray said. “It takes a lot of confidence and we want to help people feel confident and comfortable interjecting when stuff is going on campus that is sexist, racist, homophobic, trans-phobic and classist.” Murray said she wants people to stop being silent bystanders and be active bystanders because she believes people want to act but don’t always know how. “We work with them within the three-hour workshop to identify situations in which bystanders really need to speak up, we talk about what are successful ways and tactics to speak up,” Murray said. Murray said presenters discussed what to do in every situation from rape jokes to seeing an intoxicated person at a party leave with someone who they might not want to go home with. “It’s about raising their comfort level so they know it’s okay to call the police; it’s okay to take action and once people practice that, once we do role-playing activities, we see confidence levels increasing,” Murray said. Murray said this was the first public workshop held, and they’re hoping to get more people to attend. “We have seen changes before and after the workshops, but we still need to reach more people we really need people to stand up and come and participate in the workshop,” Murray said. Danielle Jones, program adviser for Diversity and Inclusion programs, said it’s important to stop rape and gender violence from happening. “Bystander intervention is one way to stand up against that violence and learn how to intervene safely,” Jones said. Jones said during the workshop participants had the opportunity to learn and practice intervention strategies. “After a little practice, the idea is that they will be ready to intervene in a safe way if the situation comes up,” Jones said. Magrady said the underlying message of the workshop could be summed up by a quote by Gloria Steinem, “Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people to do the same.”