EDITORIAL: Rutgers is diminishing bystander effect
New requirements for student organizations are positive for U.
Do you remember those Alcohol Edu assessments that you had to complete as a first-year student? Well, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) is trying to implement something a little similar to this with a new resolution that was discussed at a meeting last week.
RUSA is planning to make it a requirement for student organizations to have at least two of their officers complete bystander intervention training. However, this is not for every organization at Rutgers. As of September 2018, this will be applied to only those student organizations that receive $1,000 or more in funding from RUSA Allocations.
This training is said to be held by the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA). The Sexual Assault Prevention Committee will handle the minute details of the implementation of this program.
SCREAM Theater will also pay a crucial part in this resolution by assisting in the six-hour sessions that will work to educate the officers of the organizations.
Making bystander intervention a necessary aspect of being in a student organization is sending a positive message to the Rutgers community. It is saying that justice and the safety of students are the most important things to the University.
College is full of many situations that can be difficult for students to handle who are 18 to 22. In fact, sometimes situations are difficult to handle no matter how old you are. These situations can range from overhearing an offensive conversation to being the witness to potential sexual assault. And oftentimes, the difference between prevention and something terrible happening is the intervention of someone who is not immediately at threat.
These training sessions are important because they will teach students when to get involved and how to get involved safely, as well as how to prevent future dangerous situations from occurring. By making these classes a priority, not only will students take them more serious, but they will also feel more active and responsible members of their organizations.
As for the restriction on clubs that receive more than $1,000 of funding from RUSA, this is a good idea for now. Before Rutgers can extend these programs to everyone, it needs to test it out and ensure that this current method is effective. And hopefully, after this program sparks significant, positive results, it can be extended to everyone else. However, it may be a good idea to include fraternities and sororities in this initiative as well. There have been studies that show members of greek life (not only at Rutgers, but all around the nation) have higher rates of alcohol abuse and sexual assault than the general student population. And with a common-known fact being that one in five women are victims of sexual assault, it is important to take precautions. Extending this program to greek organizations will show the Rutgers community that everyone is being held responsible for their actions and that anyone can help save someone.
A big aspect of bystander intervention is the idea that every single person can help in some way. Whether this is stopping someone from talking about another person in an insulting way or helping someone who is being ganged up on by a larger group, standing up for the right thing can make a world of a difference. Rutgers is definitely recognizing this with their initiative to make bystander intervention a big part of campus life. Even having the main officers from student groups educated on the subject can create a ripple effect that will reach other students and eventually make the University campus a safer and happier place for all.