Campus / News / April 22, 2010

BE Active Workshop empowers bystanders

In light of recent events, campus has been abuzz with talk of what could be done to prevent sexual assault in the future. It was for this reason Gail Ferguson of the Psychology Department spearheaded a project which turned into the BE Active workshops.

“It was a joint collaboration between me, students and Tim Kasser of the Psychology Department. It is based on the idea of the bystander effect and it draws heavily from a similar program well established at the University of New Hampshire,” said Ferguson.

The workshop mainly focused on what a person can do as a bystander to prevent sexual assault. It defined what sexual assault was, based on the Knox College Conduct code as well as Illinois State law.

It also took a look at what consent is and what consent is not. The primary goal of the workshop was to teach prevention so it does not reach assault. Since the workshop is based around the idea of the bystander effect, it took a look at some of the reasons as to why people do not intervene.

Through role-playing, explanations and skits, participants were able to see that with the proper measures they can have an effect during the “pre-assault” period.

“It helps to show you as a non-victim and non-aggressor that you can do something about it,” said sophomore Brandon Paraharm, one of the actors in the workshop.

The point of the BE Active workshop is to help the bystander in understanding what they can do and the effect that they have on a situation.

One of the participants in the workshop attended because, “I wanted to be able to do something. I wanted to know what I could do before as opposed to what Knox would do after.”

Even if a person is not directly part of the intervention, they can help and promote future ones. BE Active hopes to instill a sense of responsibility in all bystanders here at Knox.

In case anyone who wanted to go to the workshop was unable to attend, there will be one more on Wednesday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in E-117 of SMC. Anyone who wants to attend should e-mail to hold his or her spot.

Kristal Romero

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