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New bystander intervention training for U of C staff

By Alexander Kim, March 5 2015 —

The University of Calgary is rolling out a new bystander intervention training program for faculty, staff and student leaders. The program is designed to teach participants how to identify and safely intervene in cases of bullying, hazing and violence.

Members of the Dinos varsity athletics teams will be among the first to receive the training. Orientation leaders and campus peer helpers will be trained in the fall.

Training co-ordinator Meg Martin said the program, which will be run by the Student Conduct Office, will be integrated into the Students’ Union’s club survival seminars and that faculty and university staff will receive training as well.

Martin said the new initiative is unlike anything other universities have implemented.

“A lot of the other campuses that do something like this are in the States and they only [focus] on sexual assault and gender-based violence. This is far more comprehensive than what other institutions have done,” Martin said.

The program is separate from the bystander intervention training the Calgary Sexual Health Centre provides to staff at the Den. The centre started training Den staff in bystander intervention tactics last semester.

“Most people want to do the right thing in situations that are problematic, it’s just that we very rarely talk about what the right thing to do is in the context of keeping yourself safe,” Martin said. “It’s not about bad people doing bad things. It’s about all of us respecting each other as a community and using practical tools to do that.”

Students’ Union vice-president student life Jonah Ardiel said they got a positive response from the Den’s bystander intervention training last semester. He expects the new program will be effective as well.

“When the university puts forward an initiative like this, it inherently creates a safer community for everyone,” Ardiel said.

The bystander intervention training program is part of the university’s UCalgary Strong initiative, which was established by a $5-million private donation last year. The mental-health focused initiative will also fund alternative Bermuda Shorts Day events, a new provincial mental-health coordinator position and StrengthsFinder skills assessment for students.

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