Texas A&M Reinforces Importance Of Bystander Intervention To Prevent Sexual Violence
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and officials at Texas A&M University are asking campus members to familiarize themselves with the school’s Step In Stand Up Campaign and related violence prevention programs, Green Dot Bystander Intervention and STAND Up Trauma-Informed Care.
April 2021 offerings for Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Month can be found at tx.ag/SAPAM.
The SISU campaign, founded in 2015, instructs individuals to “step in” to prevent incidents of sexual violence and harassment, and “stand up” for survivors.
“The Step In Stand Up campaign has served as a call to action for Aggies to end sexual violence on our campus and in the communities in which they live and serve,” said Denise Crisafi, health promotion coordinator. “Created by Texas A&M students and campus leadership, the campaign helps raise awareness of how to proactively address sexual harassment and all forms of sexual violence.”
The campaign brings education and awareness events to campus throughout the academic year and provides resources to individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence or harassment. Visitors to the campaign website may sign a pledge that demonstrates their support of this issue and states that they will do their part to engage in prevention strategies when they witness or are told about an act of sexual violence impacting another person.
Student Body President Eric Mendoza ’21 said safety on the Texas A&M campus and students’ sense of security is something every Aggie should take personally.
“We each have the opportunity – obligation – to ensure we make known to our friends, peers and larger Aggie community that sexual violence is never tolerated,” Mendoza said.
Crisafi said since fall 2017, when the STAND Up Trauma-Informed Care training was implemented on campus, approximately 1,400 individual students, faculty and staff have received basic or full training in trauma-informed care practices and how to have conversations with those impacted by sexual violence. That same year, SISU was selected as the Bronze Excellence Award Nominee by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrations (NASPA – now known as Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).
Since SISU’s launch, Crisafi said about 8,000 individual students, faculty and staff have received basic or full training in Green Dot Bystander Intervention.
Green Dot is a nationally recognized training program that aligns with SISU by providing people with the skills and knowledge to identify when acts of power-based personal violence are occurring and intervene appropriately and safely during high-risk situations, she said.
Green Dot and STAND Up overviews and full training are offered for free to the entire Texas A&M community. Health Promotion provides these opportunities upon request to any department or organization training or as a part of classroom instruction. “We also offer multiple dates throughout each semester where any student, faculty or staff member can register to attend,” Crisafi said.
Health Promotion supports additional awareness, prevention education and resource sharing year-round that relates to SISU, including workshops on healthy relationships, consent, gender normative behavior and deconstructing representations of violence in popular culture.
Additional events occur during Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness Month in October, and in January for National Stalking Prevention and Awareness Month and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Crisafi said the fact that Texas A&M created and has sustained the SISU campaign is one of the primary reasons she was interested in applying for a position at the university.
“As a staff member on campus whose primary duty is to educate students on interpersonal violence prevention, it is beneficial that I can use this as an example of how a university encourages proactive culture change around the message that sexual violence is not tolerated on our campus,” she said, adding that many higher education institutions do not give sexual violence prevention this amount of space and discussion.
“It is usually tucked in corners where only individuals doing my kind of work full-time can see it,” she said. “But Texas A&M has demonstrated a true commitment to what they want their campus to be – a place where students can come and live, learn and work safely. The key for me is to educate our community on how to really do that. The Step In Stand Up Campaign is a fantastic launching point to promote and implement learning and growth.”