After many months of preparation, U-M Student Life and the Educational Theater Program launched a major new initiative this fall to promote a welcoming campus climate for diverse students. If you’re teaching first-year undergraduates, your students will very likely attend a "Change It Up!" training this month, where they will learn about bystander intervention strategies to promote safe and respectful communities on campus.
Based on a nationally recognized bystander intervention model, the Change It Up! program is organized around several key goals, including:
encouraging students to recognize themselves as members of a campus community where individual behaviors can collectively have a powerful effect upon broader campus climate
increasing students' awareness of language and behavior that disrespects or excludes some campus community members based on their social identities
building students' skills and confidence at intervening effectively in potentially harmful situations.
The program highlights strategies a bystander can use to intervene in discrimination, disrespect, and even interpersonal violence. As highlighted in the image, these are represented by the “4 Ds” of Direct, Delay, Delegate, and Distract.
U-M teachers might be especially interested in the "Delegate" strategy. In this bystander intervention option, students are encouraged to turn to other people who can be resources or allies when they witness or feel targeted by language or behavior that insults or excludes members of the campus community. The workshop identifies instructors as one group of people to whom students might delegate and with whom they might strategize an effective intervention.
As a teacher, how might you prepare yourself to respond should such a request come your way?