By Nick Bray, Staff Reporter 

UMF Student Senate participants in the Step UP! training program. (Photo Courtesy of Jamie Austin)

UMF Student Senate participants in the Step UP! training program. (Photo Courtesy of Jamie Austin)

A new program at UMF called Step UP! is seeking to train students in bystander intervention in order to empower students to help prevent problem situations when they see them. So far several student organizations on campus have already received the training and an open session will be available to any interested students this November.  

Senior Hannah Tompkins is helping lead the initiative, along with Nurse Manager Lisa Lisius, and Assistant Director of Athletics Cyndi Pratt. The three of them attended a training in California last spring, where they trained to become facilitators of Step UP! They also learned how to implement the program at UMF.

“Step UP!’s purpose is to teach students skills to effectively intervene in problem situations they see on campus,” said Tompkins. These situations could range from simple to serious.

The typical training lasts about 90 minutes to two hours and uses various scenarios to demonstrate the program and its five steps to being an effective bystander. These steps are: 1. Notice the Event. 2. Interpret the event as a problem and investigate. 3. Assume personal responsibility. 4. Know how to help. 5. Implement the help: Step Up!

The Step Up! Program was developed by the University of Arizona in collaboration with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Their statistics show that most other bystander intervention trainings are focused on one specific scenario, like the “It’s on Us” initiative, which exclusively addresses sexual assault. The Step UP! program is effective in a wide variety of scenarios.

The program has already trained the Active Minds group, the Rainbow League and most recently they trained Student Senate. Senator Allison Bernier believed that this was an effective training. “Before [the training], I didn’t have the skills to [intervene], I would have done it, but now I think I will be more successful after this training,” said Bernier.

Athletic teams are also being trained. Recently, the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams were trained, as well as the Ski team. The Step UP! Program has a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

An open Step UP! training will be offered to all students on November 9, 6:30pm in Thomas Auditorium. The presentation facilitators aim to make the presentation informative, but fun.

The Step UP! Program is customizable, allowing the facilitators the adjust the presentation to fit the needs of UMF. “The Training gave us the tools we needed to get started,” said Lisius. “Then we can personalize it to our campus and what our issues are, then how we would best respond.”

One of the ways they intend to customize the program is to create a promotional video featuring UMF students discussing the points of the Step UP! Program. It would be an informational and motivational video to get students interested in learning about bystander training and the effects it can have on the campus community.

They also plan on doing presentations on specific topics, such as hazing and alcohol poisoning. “Once everyone is exposed to the general concept of bystander intervention, we can apply those points to specific topics and dig deeper into them,” said Lisius.

Tompkins said they are looking to create a Step UP! club on campus to continue the efforts of the program. Club members would be trained to lead presentations, in order to maximize the total number of students trained on campus in bystander intervention. Anyone who is interested in joining can email the group at stepupumf@gmail.com.