Amidst the weirdness of this semester, I have had the great opportunity to be in a class that is doing little things to make a difference in our college community. Last year, I decided to take a Women and Gender Studies minor because I realized the importance of accountability. With recent events, I am noticing some of my ignorance as an individual of a much larger world. This is the phase where I am educating myself little by little.
This year, I am taking a class where we are getting involved with our school’s Green Dot program, which is a bystander intervention program. I could give so many statistics proving why Green Dot or any bystander invention program matters. However, I believe that this is something important to learn regardless of the facts and figures.
As we have hopefully learned early on, a bystander is someone who is witnessing something that could lead to or involve risky behavior. It is scary to be in that position because we know that we need to help. Yet, there is this fear that by getting involved, we are also putting ourselves at risk. The situation varies from person to person, but I believe that there are things we can do to prevent a situation from escalating.
I wonder sometimes if I have ever been in a situation where I could have helped someone, but turned a blind eye because I was too scared of getting hurt myself. Perhaps I’ve never found myself in a situation like that. And if I did, maybe the first thing I asked myself was, “What could I possibly do?”
I’ve realized that I freeze up in intense situations. Sometimes, I draw a blank. However, sometimes I find myself looking around to see if someone else is doing anything first. Yet, I cannot always rely on someone else to do what is right. I still think about situations where I knew other people were there, and I wished they would do something. But nothing happened.
To be a bystander does not mean I have to do it all on my own. There are things that you can do as a bystander even if it is not direct action. I know that I have walked friends to a counseling office to make sure they are not alone. I know that I have tried to remove friends from toxic people. And I know that I am learning to grow as an individual to do much more than I could have before.
Our school is launching Green Dot this fall, 2020, and I really cannot wait to see how this initiative will help our campus grows as a community.