Speak UP targets bystanders

Jenni Whalen

Staff Writer

Approximately 30 University students and faculty members attended Speak UP Bucknell’s open forum in Trout Auditorium to discuss the issue of sexual assault on campus last Thursday night. The program was created both to address the fact that the University’s culture seems to foster an environment where sexual assault is likely to occur and to inform bystanders, people who neither commit assaults nor prevent them from happening. Tracy Shaynak of the Women’s Resource Center and Marie Shaw of Psychological Services founded the program this year.
Andrea Massa ’12 joined the program because she has a passion for sexual assault awareness.
“I have been a part of [associate] professor [of psychology] Bill Flack’s sexual assault research group for the past three years. However, I was not able to be proactive about the issue of sexual assault awareness until I joined Speak UP Bucknell. Now, I am not only able to help figure out what the problem is, but I can actively go out and spread awareness to other members of the Bucknell community,” Massa said.
In addition to Massa, Shaynak and Shaw, the Speak UP Bucknell group includes Nikki Shea ’12, Clark Bogle ’12, Sarah Hagerbrant ’12, Will Evans ’14, Alyssa Gockley ’13, Alyssa Henningsen ’14, Sarah Bella ’12, Meredith Dickson ’12, Mollie Morris ’12, Michael Higgins ’12 and Sam Lauer ’13.

The group presented a brief synopsis of the current research and definitions of sexual assault. It discussed bystander behaviors at length and explained that the purpose of their program is to capture bystanders, the people who don’t commit assaults but also don’t do anything to stop them. These bystanders can then create bubbles of cognitive dissonance in the University’s social culture. The presentation also incorporated group participation and a question and answer period.

“I think the most important idea that was presented was the fact that speaking up can implant an idea in someone’s head or [it] may be the first time that someone has told them that their behavior is not okay or not acceptable,” said Mark Paleafico ’13, an attendee at the open forum. “Speaking up and getting people to consider their behavior is a really important part of fostering a healthy and safe atmosphere on campus.”
“I’m so glad I went to the presentation and I think Bucknell is moving forward in a positive direction with the help of programs like Speak UP Bucknell,” Laura Neely ’13 said. “I think this discussion and topic is crucial not only here at Bucknell, but also necessary to carry on with us past our four years here. The awareness that this program brings should be heard by all.”
The Speak UP Bucknell program will continue to grow throughout the next year, potentially replacing the Transition to College classes for first-years. The members of the group will also continue to give presentations to anyone across campus who wants to start a discussion about sexual assault in their organization.

“The Speak UP Bucknell organization has the ability to create a safer environment on Bucknell’s campus,” Samantha Schindelheim ’12 said. “As we know from the Campus Climate Report and from further research being conducted, sexual assault is very prevalent on Bucknell’s campus. Students need to feel empowered to be positive bystanders and to help prevent sexual assault. Learning how to act as positive bystanders through programs like Speak UP Bucknell could change the statistics and decrease the occurrences of assault on our campus.”

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