St. Ambrose and Augustana discuss bystander intervention

Students from both Augustana College and St. Ambrose University participated in a bystander intervention event on April 20, which allowed for an open discussion on methods of intervening in situations leading to sexual assault, and the significance of the bystander.
“If two friends are intoxicated, and your friend says no I don’t want to go home right now…how are you going to use bystander intervention?” said David Sommers, senior and President of Augustana’s Student Government Association.
Sommers emphasized the importance of implementing bystander intervention into the Augustana culture going beyond the the meaning of the phrase. With the addition of the one credit class on bystander intervention being offered in the fall, the event gave students a chance to discuss ways to stop a sexual assault before it can even happen through two different scenarios.
After SGA got in contact with St. Ambrose’s Assistant Dean of Students, and the Dean of Students at Augustana to approve on the collaboration, the ball started rolling.
One of the key leaders at the event was Senior Stephanie Burns, who is the President of the Sexual Assault Awareness team at St. Ambrose.
“The conversations were great, people were really talking about what they would, how they would do it, if it mattered, if they were friends or not, and those are the important things to think about”, said Burns.
Burns is currently researching bystander intervention as her Senior Inquiry, and with the research she served as the facilitator of the conversations, as a way to make sure that the responses got people to think deeper about the situation of sexual assault.
“Students are the ones who can be the difference, they can do something if they see something, and in doing that they can change the culture”, said Burns.
Sommers wants a variety of students to come to events like this, with a mix of greek life, athletics, and people from different niches from Augustana to be informed. A majority of the greek community showed up to the event, as well as athletes, with around 10 students from St. Ambrose leading many of the conversations.
Both Burns and Sommers wanted students to think outside the box for the scenarios that they were given, as sexual assault is a serious issue that happens at institutions like St. Ambrose and Augustana.
“The truth is, this event only works if students actually communicate and they tell other people that this is something that they’ve been through”, said Sommers. “The conversation only goes as far as the effort they’re going to put in”.