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Step UP!

News Story

Get the info you need about the right way to step up and intervene, learn the skills and techniques you’ll need to make a positive impact, and get involved with Pace’s Step UP! program today.

Every see something or hear something and think to yourself: That’s none of my business—I shouldn’t get involved? Don’t worry if you have. It’s normal and more common than you think. This psychological phenomenon called bystander effect becomes more apparent if there are a greater number of people in the area to witness an event that requires attention—a fight, an accident, bullying—the more people in the nearby area, the less responsibility each feels to step in and intervene. 

But Pace is doing something to help. The Division of Student AffairsWestchester partnered with Pace’s Athletics Department to bring the Step UP! program to Pace’s Westchester Campus, where students, staff, and faculty learned about effective ways to become proactive in helping someone.

“Creating a culture of caring on our campuses starts with our ability to ‘step up’ when we see others in need,” says Carpenter. “This spring semester, the Division of Student Affairs implemented a bystander intervention program called Step UP!, now used by more than 300 schools. We have recruited faculty, staff, and students to join our efforts in teaching each other the skills needed to make a difference in our campus culture.”

This effort includes highly interactive workshops that help raise awareness of helping behaviors, increase confidence when responding to situations of concern, and ensuring the well-being of ourselves and others on our campus. A study at three universities concluded that nearly 90% of students believe a situation could have been avoided if someone had intervened earlier. 85% of the students studied reported they would like to learn the skills necessary to intervene and make a difference in a situation. Many situations and behaviors on college campuses involve bystanders. By giving people the skills to respond to situations (decision making, understanding bystander effect, and intervention strategies), we have an opportunity to impact people and situations on our campus (directly and indirectly). 

So what exactly is Step UP! and bystander training? According to stepupprogram.org, it’s a prosocial behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students, faculty, and staff to be proactive in helping others. Teaching people about the determinants of prosocial behavior makes them more aware of why they sometimes don’t help. As a result they are more likely to help in the future.

“Step UP! can be applied to any issue—office behavior; sexual assault/harassment; behavioral concerns in students, faculty, or staff; drug/alcohol use; depression/mental health, etc.,” Carpenter says. “Our natural inclination is usually to help people, but then why do so many situations occur without bystanders intervening? This program helps explore that question, build intervention skills, and create a culture of caring.”

This fall, the Step UP! training committee in Westchester will ramp up training sessions and get incoming students, current students, faculty, and staff involved. As awareness of the program increases, they will introduce a Step UP! bracelet into the program. The national Step UP! program partnered with “Ben’s Bells” to create the bracelet. “Ben’s Bells” is a non-profit created in memory of a little boy whose family wants people to realize the impact of kindness and empower individuals to act.  They created a “Be kind. Step UP!” bracelet that can be given to people seen “stepping up” in small and big ways. When someone receives a bracelet, they are able to log the story of how they earned the bracelet on a website by entering the unique code on the back of the bracelet. When that person sees someone else stepping up, they can pass on their bracelet to that person. After entering your story of stepping up on the website, you can see all the stories of the people who had previously earned that bracelet. Currently, there is a national website for the bracelet system, but Carpenter’s group would like to create a Pace specific site to tell Pace’s stories of stepping up.

Here’s how you can get involved: Faculty and staff can contact the training committee to schedule a group workshop. The committee can tailor the scenario and discussion content to a particular issue if a group wants to focus on a specific perspective. Currently, training can be requested by contacting Christine Bogulaski at cbogulaski@pace.edu. As the requests for workshops increase, it is imperative to increase Pace’s number of facilitators.  To become a facilitator and host workshops, anyone can contact Christine Bogulaski as she leads the training committee to create workshops and recruit facilitators. Additionally, there are opportunities to contribute to the committees focused on (1) Training, (2) Marketing, and (3) Programming.

For more information about Pace’s Step UP! program, please contact Rachel Carpenter at rcarpenter@pace.edu.