Sophomores attend bystander intervention workshops

The mandatory bystander intervention training sessions presented Yale students with scenarios they might face in everyday life.
The mandatory bystander intervention training sessions presented Yale students with scenarios they might face in everyday life. Photo by Jacob Geiger.

All but two sophomores registered for mandatory bystander intervention training, which took place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.

The 75-minute workshops — part of an ongoing effort by administrators to improve the campus sexual climate — taught students strategies for intervening in situations in which they notice that another person is at risk of sexual harassment or assault. The Communication and Consent Educators ran each of the 99 workshops for Yale’s 1,351 sophomores, which featured an instructional video and group discussions. Six students interviewed said they felt the training was largely effective but added that the workshops did not succeed in engaging all attendees.

“I had several students say they thought it would be a total joke but the conversation was actually really good,” CCE Matthew Breuer ’14 said. “Everyone has been jumping into the discussion — they’ve been really easy to facilitate.”

Six of seven CCEs interviewed said responses to the workshops were positive, and three said they received strong feedback about the training afterwards. CCE Olivia Schwob ’14 said students were highly engaged and took the discussions in creative directions.

The seven CCEs interviewed said attendance at the workshops was high and reported an average of two absences of registered students per meeting.

CCE Kolu Buck ’14 said he saw mixed responses from students and noticed students were more engaged when they attended with friends or suitemates.

“They’re the people you’re probably going to go out with on the weekends, so we want them to experience the workshop together,” Bucks said.

Melanie Boyd ’90, assistant dean of student affairs, said her office allowed students to choose their own timeslots in part to encourage sophomores to attend with friends.

The trainings had a more serious tone than the freshman year CCE workshops because the bystander intervention workshops used group discussions instead of skits, said attendee David Shatan-Pardo ’15.

“I feel like being in a bystander situation is a lot more common, that more people can relate to,” Shatan-Pardo said. “With [the freshman workshops] I had trouble relating to it and having skits made people not really take it seriously.”

The workshop presented students with common scenarios, which made the training more relevant, he added.

Attendee Pablo Napolitano ’15 said he did not feel the trainings were effective because they were mandatory and thus students were not enthusiastic. Napolitano said he also thinks student leaders could have been more sensitive when discussing sexual misconduct.

“They act like talking about sexual misconduct is easy, but a lot of people would prefer not to talk about it,” Napolitano said.

Make-up sessions for students who had scheduling conflicts last weekend will be held this coming weekend.

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