LWGRC Hosts its First Bystander Training Program

Tiffany French teaches participants how to use the 6 D’s to approach a situation.

 By Karen Flores, Asst. Features Editor

Tiffany French, assistant dean of engineering, with the support of the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center, held a Bystander Intervention Training on Sept. 28 with the goal of teaching students how to strategically assess and intervene if they witness a potentially dangerous situation. 

The event consisted of an information session and different interactive activities such as rapid response practices and intervention barrier exercises, which allowed participants to discuss and determine the different types of ways one may approach a situation based on certain circumstances.

French wrote via email that the LWGRC advisory board had coordinated this event. 

“This was a collaborative effort with other members of the LWGRC advisory board.  I did step away from it this year due to other professional opportunities, but this training came out of the advisory board,” she wrote. 

There was a different training offered prior to the current one but it is no longer offered. “We had another training before (Green Dot), but I am currently the only person who could offer training on campus, so it wasn’t viable to continue,” French wrote. 

She also wrote that they had hoped to expand into new topics that had previously not been talked about when using Green Dot.

Participants engaging in a scenario approach activity. KAREN FLORES/THE QUADRANGLE

 “We also wanted to broaden this training to address other behaviors that might be concerning (sexism, racism, or homophobia, for instance) but haven’t been covered in other training we have offered on campus,” French wrote. “We needed something that we could train other folks to become trainers in and wanted to have the training address issues of concern more broadly, as well.”

Studies have shown that taking this kind of training increases the chances of someone intervening in a situation. 

“Studies show that taking bystander intervention training increases the likelihood that someone will intervene in a situation,” French wrote. “I also think this aligns well with our core mission and values as an institution: respect for all people and an inclusive community.”

Evelyn Scaramella, associate professor of Spanish and co-director of LWGRC, said that she believes these kinds of training should be available to the entire community in order to spread awareness about how important it is to be able to understand and help someone experiencing a bad interaction with someone else. 

 “It’s extremely important in this climate that we’re living in politically, culturally and now post pandemic to be able to assess a situation. Sometimes you find yourself in an unexpected situation where you would have to intervene or follow up with someone and how do you do that in a way that’s appropriate to the situation and most of all safe for you is critical,” Scaramella said. 

The training also taught students how to use the LARA method, a communication tool used from the Intergroup Dialogue Project created by Cornell University. LARA stands for listen, affirm, respond and add. 

 (Left to right) Linn Zapffe and Sophie Ryan filling out the LARA worksheet. KAREN FLORES/THE QUADRANGLE 

French explained that she finds the use of this method very valuable when engaging in discussions with others. 

 “I find the LARA method from the Intergroup Dialogue Project to be really valuable when discussing an issue that can be emotional for both parties but about which you have disparate opinions,” French said. “We know it can be difficult to find common ground, but if you remember to stick to LARA, it helps the conversation remain more civil, which is an important Lasallian value.”

Linn Zapffe, a senior psychology major, said that she felt the tools that the training provided were helpful for learning how to respond to a situation when you witness it and want to help. She liked learning about ways to deal with these situations without escalating them. 

“I felt like I don’t always know how to interact or know what to do in a situation where you experience things that could be dangerous. So I wanted to learn some tools or ways to give help as a bystander,” she stated. “I really liked the way they’re talking about different things you can do like distracting instead of confronting a situation  through spilling water or causing confusion. It gives non-confrontational approaches.” 

Sophie Ryan, a senior communications major and an intern at the LWGRC, said that despite being asked to be there, she would have come to the training on her own account as she believes this training could create a safer environment for everyone on campus. 

“I am an intern at the LWGRC. It was part of our programming to attend this. But even if I wasn’t an intern, I would still want to come to this kind of thing because I think it’s important to create a culture of awareness and intervention,” Ryan said. “Once you have a tool set to help you deal with certain situations, you start to feel that you can make more people feel comfortable on campus.” 

Scaramella encourages students to take part in the training offered and to become trainers themselves so that everyone has the tools necessary to intervene in a situation if needed. 

“We [LWGRC] will be offering more training for the community as well as advanced training for those who have previously taken the workshop so they can then be trainers.” 

For any questions regarding events at the LWGRC, contact Evelyn Scaramella at evelyn.scaramella@manhattan.edu.