"Bringing in the Bystander" to the Ag Campus and beyond

- October 28, 2015

Students Alexandre Loureiro and Katie Molnar with Rocky the Ram. (Provided photo)
Students Alexandre Loureiro and Katie Molnar with Rocky the Ram. (Provided photo)

Students, faculty and staff at the Faculty of Agriculture took in Dalhousie’s first group training for ‘Bringing in the Bystander’, an international program focused on tools to stand up, speak out and be a proactive bystander.

On September 30, eight AC students from different backgrounds were joined by Dean David Gray to receive the training from Dalhousie facilitators.

The program is based on teaching bystanders tools to effectively and safely intervene in risky or unwanted behaviours such as sexualized violence, racism and discrimination. Program participants leave with skills in recognizing risky and violent behaviour, developing empathy for victims, utilizing safe and suitable intervention techniques and committing to intervening when they witness such situations.

Empowering bystanders

Heather Doyle, director of Student Services at the Faculty of Agriculture, helped to facilitate the session.  

“Dalhousie University is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for our students,” she said.  “To this end, it is important that we, as a community, have the tools and understanding necessary to intervene and speak up in situations of sexual harassment and assault.

“By starting with some of our student leaders on campus, we are hoping that we can create a strong culture of community responsibility. That is, students who feel empowered and safe to speak up for the safety of someone else. It is our hope that the Bringing in the Bystander program will continue to enhance our community where students feel safe to be active members.”

Melissa MacKay, advisor with the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention at Dalhousie, also helped lead the training.

“We are so excited to be involved in bringing this program to Dalhousie. It’s a very empowering program and we hope those who participate walk away feeling they have the tools to speak up and safely intervene in situations where they see the potential for sexual violence.”

A focus on health and wellness

Bringing in the Bystander is just one component of new programming focused on inclusivity and student health and wellness. Recently Caring Campus, part of the Pro-Social Project, was integrated into the Faculty of Agriculture, with two students hired to promote healthy practices on campus. These two students took part in the bystander training.

“This training gave me valuable information about the importance and responsibilities of being a bystander,” said Deney Augustine Joseph, a peer education coordinator for the Caring Campus initiative and Master of Science (Agriculture) student.  “It also made me aware of the safety measures to be taken as a bystander.”

His Peer Education colleague and fourth-year Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) student Alexandre Loureiro agrees.  

“The training was very productive because it gave us the confidence to act when we are in a situation as a bystander.  The knowledge that every situation is different and that your safety should come first is important.”

Katie Molnar is a RESPECT peer educator in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) program.

“After taking part in the Bringing in the Bystander training, I feel like I am far more equipped to intervene, directly and indirectly, in many situations.  I am more aware of my surroundings.  I think this program will definitely make a positive impact on campus and I know that others will benefit from the program as well.”

The Bringing in the Bystander program will be expanded to the broader Dal community starting in November. There are 11 trained facilitators across campus who can deliver the session, and the hope is to have as many students and staff involved in the program as possible.


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