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Program encourages bystander intervention

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Alyssa Navarro
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne has adopted a new bystander intervention program called “Step UP!” The “bystander effect” refers to instances in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present.

Step UP! is a program that was developed to encourage and empower students to be proactive in helping others. It is a national program that was introduced to universities nationwide. The goal is for students to be able to see a problem and react in a manner that is safe and effective in preventing harm to others in the community.

“It attempts to train college students to not be bystanders,” said Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Elleni Koulos. “It gives students practical ways to intervene when they see something is wrong.”

Director of Campus Safety Stanley Skipworth first introduced the program at the University. About a year ago, he developed a mechanism called “Leos Caring for Leos” which allowed students on campus to acknowledge and help people in distress. Then he discovered “Step UP!” which is used on several different college campuses worldwide. Together with Assistant Athletics Director Julie Smith, they got the program going at the University.

“The worst thing that can happen is when someone is facing a difficult time in their lives and nobody notices,” Skipworth said. “The next worst thing is when someone notices the problem and does not know what to do.”

There are five decision-making steps in the program. The first is to notice the even. Next is to interpret the event as a problem and investigate.

Third is to assume personal responsibility to handle the situation.

The fourth step is knowing how and when to help. The final step is to take action, or step up, to help effectively.

The comprehensive Step UP! program covers the topics of academics, alcohol and alcohol poisoning, anger, depression, discrimination, disordered eating, gambling, hazing, relationship abuse and sexual assault.

The program includes scenarios, questions, considerations, action steps and resources to help students overcome their everyday issues.

“La Verne is doing all the right steps to getting the ‘Step UP!’ program started,” Koulos said.

The program was first introduced to freshmen students over the summer at orientation.

The program will be introduced to more students Sept. 27 at the annual Greek Conference.

Not only is the faculty involved in the success of the program, but students are too.

Junior math major and football player Travis Sparks realizes the importance of the program.

“It shows the school as a whole cares about its students,” Sparks said. “By helping others, it makes those students going through difficult times feel welcomed, appreciated and a part of the Leo family.”

“No one wants to be left out or feel less than anybody, and this program helps make those other students comfortable,” he said.

The athletics department, Campus Safety and other organizations on campus are working together to get “Step UP!” initiated.

Their collaborate effort strives to meet one main goal.

The goal is not to reach just a couple students, but to ensure the entire campus becomes a safer environment.

“The reality is everyone goes through difficult times,” Skipworth said. “But when you are quick to respond the better the outcome will be.”

To learn more about the Step Up! program, visit laverne.edu/step-up.

Alyssa Navarro can be reached at alyssa.navarro@laverne.edu.

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