Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Campus offers bystander intervention class

Starting spring term of 2016, Augustana College began offering a one-credit Bystander Intervention course.  The goal of the course is to help educate students on the frequency of sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses and teaching them how to intervene in these types of situations.

The idea for the course arose after a meeting between Emilee Goad, LMSW, who teaches the class, President Steve Bahls, and Dean of Academic Initiatives Wendy Hilton-Morrow about sexual assault awareness and educational opportunities pertaining to this subject.

In the course, students learn about the educational philosophy of the gender violence educational program Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) and take part in units involving battering, sexual assault/rape, gender roles, sexual harassment, and homophobia/heterosexism.

“It is my hope that after taking the course, the students will want to continue training others on campus and eventually there will be a group on campus that is for those students trained in bystander intervention,” says Goad. “The original idea of the course had the trained students not only training other Augie students, but also going to local high schools to train Junior and Senior students.”

Due to the late addition of the course, Goad says that she hopes that the high school visits will begin in the fall term of the 2016/2017.

In the MVP method that is used in the course, men are not viewed as perpetrators and women as victims.  Instead, it views all members as bystanders who are able to prevent sexual assault.

“The MVP program provides relevant information on the topic of gender based violence,” says Goad, “as well as realistic scenarios (and) exercises to start the conversation surrounding when and how to step in.”

A large part of the Bystander Intervention course is making sure students are active on campus and learning how to handle real life examples.

“We have campaign projects that we continue throughout the course. Additionally, we have examined numerous campaigns that have been initiative throughout the nation,” says Anna Novotny, a senior taking the class.  “We have also surveyed students for their input concerning sexual assault and bystander intervention at Augustana College.”

Goad and Novotny both say they have been happy with the progress shown in the pilot run of the course.  Goad says that the students she has are very passionate and want to spread the message.

The next step is to get more students involved. This term, there are about twenty students in the class, all of them women.

“I do believe that this program, or at least something similar, should be required,” says Novotny. “Students, faculty, administration, etc. should be involved in initiatives like these to make our campus safer.”

Right now the focus is on the last five weeks of spring term.  This is when students in the class will begin training other students what they learned in the course.  However, Goad has many visions for the future.

Goad says that she thinks the best way to get more students actively involved is by getting the program recognized across campus.  She wants to build a strong relationship with local high schools and have the course be something students know about when they first come to Augustana.

“My hope is that it will be something students hear about when first coming to Augustana and will be a group that people want to be a part of,” says Goad.  “Continuing this conversation among the students will hopefully start to change the campus culture.”

The course will be offered again in the fall term of the 2016/2017 school year.

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Campus offers bystander intervention class