‘I GOT YOUR BACK’ FOCUSES ON BYSTANDER AWARENESS

Mind your own beeswax. Stay in your own lane. It’s an “A and B” conversation so “C” your way out of it.

In large part, society conditions us to keep our eyes forward and avoid becoming involved in situations that don’t involve us directly. A lot of times that makes sense, but when someone’s health or safety is involved, it is our responsibility as members of a society to help.

“I Got Your Back,” a new bystander awareness project beginning at Collin College this fall wants to give students the tools and the confidence to make a difference when others are in trouble or being harassed. Whether that means offering an easy way out for someone cornered in an intense conversation or reporting a situation that seems dangerous to someone who can help, anyone can take an action that helps others.

“Instead of standing by and witnessing something that is a potentially dangerous situation, an active bystander speaks up to stop whatever that behavior is,” said Student Conduct Officer Joe Guy, one of he IGYB organizers.

Guy said that the student development office will offer programming to teach students positive ways to make their presence felt in potentially aggressive situations, keeping those situations from escalating into bigger issues.

The actions a student takes do not need to be big ones, according to Student Development Specialist Jenny Summers.

“It doesn’t have to be a big superhero thing,” she said. “You don’t have to put on a cape and stop something huge from happening.”

It can be as small as noticing that someone is being bothered or harassed and making your presence known.

“You can ask them to get a coke in the café to get the out of a situation that might have become dangerous if you hadn’t stepped in,” she said. “Because you stepped in in a small way, it didn’t have any chance to escalate.”

I Got Your Back will partner with the Student Government Association, The Dignity Initiative and other organizations to get the word out about bystander awareness and to offer programs to teach students skills useful in combatting many forms of aggression, from bullying to dating violence and sexual assault.

For more information on the I Got Your Back Project or on bystander awareness, contact your campus Student Development office.

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