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Club leaders must participate in bystander intervention training

All members of a club’s e-board must now complete bystander intervention training once annually or the club risks losing their accreditation, as the result of a bylaw amendment approved by the Student Union Senate on Sunday, Nov. 22.

The bystander initiative will take effect next semester, but there will be no risk of penalty until spring 2017. Club leaders will have the full year to satisfy the “once annually” requirement. Returning officers will have a year from the date of their last training to renew.

Clubs that are de-recognized or de-chartered cannot apply for funding through the allocations board or request common spaces.

Bystander training is a program that teaches students how to intervene in situations that could lead to sexual misconduct, allowing participants the opportunity to discuss or role-play scenarios involving partner violence, intoxicated hook-ups and homophobic remarks.

Two trainers prompt participants to consider how they would approach the situation as a bystander to prevent harm while also thinking about their safety, according to Sheila McMahon from the Office of Prevention Services. McMahon and Brendan Weintraub ’16 oversee the program at Brandeis.

“The point [of the bystander amendment] isn’t to waste people’s time and add an obstacle … The point is to make people more aware of these sorts of issues,” said Senator-at-Large Lorenzo Finamore ’18, who was involved with the initiative on the Student Union end. The three Senate committees involved were social justice, bylaws and club support.

Union members completed training during a retreat at the beginning of the semester, after which they decided it would not be too difficult for all club leaders to be trained as well, said Finamore.

“Club leaders have a really important role in setting the tone for the people who are a part of their group,” said McMahon, who was excited to partner with the Student Union on this project.

Brandeis introduced bystander training in the spring of 2014. Since then, about 1,000 students have participated, and there now about 60 trainers, according to McMahon.

Though the Senate will monitor club leaders on an individual basis, some student groups have organized trainings open to all their members, including the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, the Quiz Bowl team, Greek organizations and varsity sports teams.

There have been over 20 trainings this semester, reaching almost 300 students. By this point last year, 376 students had received training, but 199 of those students were Orientation Leaders and Community Advisors. This year’s OLs and CAs did not receive bystander intervention training but participated in other forms of sexual misconduct training, McMahon said. Excluding those numbers, there has been a 70-percent increase in the number of students trained by the end of first semester. A total of over 700 students received training last year.

CAs can organize trainings for their residents and participate themselves. Students living in Ziv 128 and 130, in Ridgewood B and on Hassenfeld 3 were trained this semester.

Sam Daniels ’16, a student worker at the Office of Prevention Services acts as the liaison between that office, the Department of Community Living and the Rape Crisis Center, and helps coordinate these trainings.

“I think the most important part of bystander training is that, at the end of the day, it’s a discussion about rape culture. So the more trainings we have, the more discussions about rape culture we have. Silence fuels rape culture, and bystander training is about changing that,” said Daniels in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.

Over the past couple years, Brandeis has taken steps to address sexual violence on campus, hiring McMahon, implementing bystander training and organizing other programs like the theatrical Speak About It! performance about sexual violence during Orientation. In August, Brandeis released online training to give students a baseline level of knowledge about consent, sexual assault and dating violence, in compliance with the Clery Act of 1990.

However, the results of Brandeis’ campus climate survey on sexual violence from last spring demonstrated the need to do more in areas including bystander training, according to McMahon.

The survey asked students to explain why they may not have chosen to intervene as a bystander. The most common responses were that students “didn’t know what to do/say” or “didn’t realize until later that the situation was serious,” the results said.

Bystander training aims to change how students perceive situations like this. Though in the past, discussions of sexual violence focused on the “one-to-one relationship” between survivor and perpetrator, McMahon said, “If you expand the frame of your awareness and include people who are around the potential victim and the potential perpetrator … [it] gives everyone a role in making the campus safer.”

The Senate approved several other changes to their bylaws at the Nov. 22 meeting, which included the new waiting period clubs must observe between requesting recognition and chartering and revisions to the timeline for submitting anti-hazing forms.

In the past, clubs lost their accreditation if they did not submit the forms by a given date. This year, the Senate de-chartered 30 clubs that did not submit the form. Now, clubs have 40 days from the beginning of the academic year to submit the form. Failure to do so will result in suspension but not irreversible loss of recognition or charter, Finamore said.

The Senate also approved a 40-academic day waiting period clubs must observe between when they apply to be recognized and chartered. This change addresses the large number of clubs that apply for charter (about two per week) in relation to the limited amount of funding available to give them, according to an Oct. 30 Hoot article.

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