Not only have we have been working on making sure any member of our community can report an incident of sexual violence, harassment and hate crime quickly and easily with our new Report and Support system, but we’ve also been working on preventing these incidents from happening on our campuses. This year, we brought Bringing in the Bystander® training to Colchester campus, and we have now trained 300 staff and students in being an active bystander.
Being an active bystander means intervening safely and positively to deescalate potentially harmful incidents of sexual violence, harassment and hate crime. We have trained our staff and students to identify potentially risky situations, and have equipped them with the necessary skills to intervene.
You might have been in a situation where someone has made a sexist comment, a homophobic remark, a transphobic joke, a biphobic statement or a rape joke, and although you knew it wasn’t right, you might not have been able to intervene; perhaps through a lack of confidence, or even a fear of repercussion. Our bystander intervention training instils participants with knowledge about consent and the continuum of sexual violence, and empowers our community with the skills to safely intervene, and teaches you how to address these issues confidently, according to your own interpersonal skills, and what you feel comfortable in doing. This could be having a quiet word with the person making the inappropriate joke, or it could be calling it out calmly at the time, to let them know that it’s not ok.
Bringing in the Bystander® was initially developed at the University of New Hampshire in the USA, and following our implementation of the training, more and more universities are implementing these workshops across the UK. The training has a robust evidence base, and from our work this year, we have found a huge positive increase in confidence for intervening from those who participated in the training.
The University has a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence, harassment and hate crime and using Bystander Intervention Training® we hope to empower our community to intervene when situations arise. The University of Essex prides itself on its inclusive community and we work hard to create environments on campus that are safe for everyone in the community.
We are starting training sessions via Zoom, dates to be announced