CCSC members are leaders makin’ a difference!

Campus politics guru Joe Milholland is back with the latest CCSC report; last night CCSC designated their first meeting of Spring 2015 to discuss next steps in the Step Up program on our campus. [Trigger warning: post mentions terms and topics related to sexual assault.] 

In their first general body meeting of the semester, the Columbia College Student Council dedicated their entire meeting to witnessing and responding to a presentation from Sexual Violence Response (SVR) prevention coordinator Paul Carbini on the Step Up program. The Step Up program is bystander intervention education that is used by colleges and organizations across the nation to prevent sexual assault.

Council members generally approved of the presentation. CCSC President Peter Bailinson will be meeting with groups in coming weeks to encourage the groups to go through with bystander intervention training. 2016 Class Council Vice President Anne Scotti mentioned that she has experienced Step Up training before and found it beneficial.

“For sexual assault, most of the sequence happens in public – at parties, at bars, in the dorms,” said Carbini as he explained the need for bystander intervention. The goal of Step-up is to transform bystanders, who do not intervene, into pro-social bystanders, who do intervene. Carbini said that the steps of intervention were to notice what’s happening, interpret it, assume personal responsibility, know how to help, and then intervene.

Carbini then went through the intervention process. People often do not interpret certain actions as red flags because of situational ambiguity or conformity. Students can improve their interpretation by asking others and investigating ambiguous events further. Furthermore, in large groups, diffusion of responsibility can cause nobody to intervene because everyone assumes someone else will intervene.

Carbini also went over indirect versus direct intervention. Whereas in direct intervention, one directly confronts a possible perpetrator, indirect intervention can be asking someone else (often an authority figure, like a bartender) to intervene or passively inconveniencing a perpetrator.

Carbini emphasized that environmental changes from bystanders where necessary to stop sexual assault. He suggested that in order to grow into bystander intervention, people first call out bigoted remarks they overhear. “There’s no credible research that we can rehabilitate rapists,” he said in support of bystander intervention. Carbini also directed the council members to a video on bystander intervention, although he did not shot the video at the presentation [Trigger warning: The video deals with sexual assault explicitly].

Finally, Carbini explained that SVR, a confidential resource, provides survivors with counseling, their medical rights, their legal rights, and resources. They are a confidential resource, and they do not report sexual assaults to anyone. On the other hand, The Gender-based Misconduct Office adjudicates and investigates at the university level.

VP of Policy Sejal Singh asked about intervening in intimate partner and relationship violence. Carbini noted that usually the person being abused doesn’t know the relationship is abusive, and families and friends have to intervene in order for them to realize. Carbini said the red flags for an abusive relationship is a relationship that goes quickly and that isolates the abused parter from the outside world. He mentioned abusers often exploit power dynamics and target younger people with weak support systems.

Next week CCSC will examine feedback on the drop deadline and go through updates.

Also found on free shirts from NSOP via Columbia University Prevention Education