Fourteen people gathered in a Davenport seminar room Tuesday night to learn in-the-moment bias intervention strategies as part of a series of inaugural workshops led by Yale’s Communication and Consent Educators.
The Office of Gender and Campus Culture and the Intercultural Affairs Council are holding five separate workshops from Jan. 22 to 31 which use a small-discussion format to teach tactics for interrupting incidents of harassment or bias, including how to reform or correct the actions of the offender and how to support the targeted individual or group. The CCE workshops were inspired by similar bystander intervention workshops already offered by CCEs to all sophomores, said Melanie Boyd ’90, assistant dean of student affairs and director of the Office of Gender and Campus Culture, and are part of a larger mission to construct a respectful and supportive Yale community.
“Research shows that interventions make a big difference — for the targeted person and for the whole community — but people sometimes hesitate to act in the moment,” Boyd said. “This workshop is an opportunity to discuss diverse intervention strategies.”
Tuesday’s workshop in Davenport was led by CCEs Josh Feng ’18 and Katrina Garry ’18, who defined bias as the use of a power dynamic to demean or subjugate. After the session, both said these educational workshop encourage people to monitor bias in an active way, rather than being passive bystanders.
Those in attendance were asked to discuss, in small groups of two or three, a time when they witnessed, or acted in support of someone in, a dangerous or difficult situation.
On Tuesday, various scenarios were described and possible responses were discussed in small groups. These scenarios included hearing a racial slur used on Cross Campus, demeaning comments made by the guest of honor at a dinner reception and the process of subdividing students into groups based on their “fit.”
Carole Goldberg, director of Yale’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center and School of Medicine professor, said she found that the CCE sessions offered fundamental tools to community members who hope to make a difference at Yale.
“It is important to recognize instances of bias in every setting and find a way to respond,” Goldberg said. “The workshops heighten awareness and help by preparing attendees with possible responses or actions they can call on when needed. Speaking up can be difficult, but it gets easier with practice.”
In one of the hypothetical response situations, a friend seeks consolation but the cause of their distress is unclear to the participant. Goldberg said in such a case that “it is important to be open to others’ experiences and support them, not try to talk them out of their response.”
The bias intervention workshops are open to all members of the Yale community, especially for faculty and students interested in building intervention skills, Boyd said.
The workshops, hosted in conjunction with Yale’s Annual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will continue on Jan. 31.