Campuswide initiative encourages bystanders to get involved

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KALAMAZOO--Giving members of the campus community the confidence to step forward and help when they see bad behavior is the goal of a new initiative at Western Michigan University.

The program is being launched by the Division of Student Affairs' Bystander Intervention Committee to counteract the Bystander Effect, which holds that the greater the number of people present during an emergency, the less likely it is that any of them will actually intervene.

Faculty, staff and administrators who would be interested in participating in the bystander initiative are invited to learn more by contacting Dr. Christine Iaderosa, committee co-chair and coordinator of Theatre for Community Health in the Sindecuse Health Center's Office of Health Promotion and Education.

"People often see someone in need of assistance, yet don't get involved. They believe they can't make a difference or that someone else will intervene," she says. "We hope to educate our community about when and how to intervene safely. If we can galvanize the campus population to stand up and help in varied situations, from dangerous drinking to dehumanizing behaviors, we can make WMU a safer and more secure place for all."

The bystander initiative campaign, dubbed Western Heroes, gets its name from what it calls on people to do:

  • Notice when something is happening.
  • Evaluate the situation to see if assistance is needed.
  • Assume responsibility to step in and help.
  • Obtain the education necessary to know what to do.
  • Step up and make a difference.

The program will kick off this summer with posters and a video depicting various members of the campus community as everyday heroes. The posters will be put up around WMU in mid-August as student leaders return to campus, and the film will be shown to students in late August during Fall Welcome.

Campaign organizers are seeking additional people who are willing to be featured on the posters and in the video, as well as people willing to facilitate workshops that are being planned this fall to educate the campus community about effective intervention techniques.

Some of the WMU employees featured in the initial part of the campaign include Dr. Diane K. Anderson, vice president of student affairs; Carol A. Eddy, director of the Sindecuse Health Center; Carolyn "Cari" K. Robertson, director of the Office of Health Promotion and Education; Laura L. Darrah, assistant director of residence life; Jeremy C. Ynclan, assistant director of residence life for student conduct; Nicole C. Millar, assistant director of Student Activities and Leadership Programs; and Jennifer L. Bailey, coordinator of fitness programs in University Recreation.

For more information about participating in the bystander initiative, contact Christine Iaderosa at christine.iaderosa@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3126.