Be an active bystander

October is SafeU Month at the University of Utah, and there will be dozens of opportunities to engage in safety awareness, education and training opportunities on campus. See what’s happening throughout the month here.

This third week (Oct. 14-20) of SafeU Month is focused on mental and emotional wellness—a call to have all U students, faculty and staff feel more connected to each other and to themselves. When you’re taking care of yourself first, you can be better prepared to care for others, including through bystander intervention.

Bystander Intervention

The Bystander Effect, distilled to its simplest form: The more people there are to witness an event—even if the risk level is low—the less likely it is that any of those individuals will do or say anything on behalf of one or more of the group members. There’s an expectation that someone else will step in and intervene. In the end, no one does anything.

The U’s Center for Student Wellness strives to flip that thinking on its head through its Bystander Intervention Training. The goal is to create a culture that embraces the idea of stepping in by increasing individuals’ comfort level with taking that step and fostering an expectation that faculty, staff and students think to themselves, “I have to do something, I have to say something. If not me, then who?”

The training often begins with a scenario of two acquaintances. One is walking through the hallway of a building on campus, and the other is sitting alone. Visual cues show the person sitting alone has red and puffy eyes, closed-off body posture and tears on their face. So, what do you do?

“We need to reframe what we believe about being an active bystander,” said Brittany Badger, director of the Center for Student Wellness. “It’s more than just jumping in at the last minute to help someone. We don’t have to wait until something feels critical – checking in more often and earlier shows others that we care. Yes, there will be times to intervene in the moment, but more often, being an active bystander can be as simple as asking someone how they are doing and if you can help.”

How to be an active bystander: Step in. Speak up.

Notice the event.

Limit distractions and be aware of your immediate environment and surroundings.

Next, interpret the event as a problem.

Without all of the information, it may be easy to convince yourself that the situation isn’t a problem and doesn’t warrant help.

Once you recognize a problem, assume personal responsibility.

Consider these questions: If I were in their shoes, what would I want? What might happen if I don’t intervene? And, if not me, then who?

Understand what your role is and isn’t.

You may not be qualified to handle an emergency situation, but you can help by being a good listener and friend and offering resources when appropriate.

Step up and intervene.

Intervening can be scary. We are socialized to mind our own business, so whenever we choose to intervene it can feel nerve-wracking. One of the most important roles of a bystander is be able to refer someone to resources.

If your college, department, student club or organization would like to request a Bystander Intervention Training, click here or visit the Center for Student Wellness “Workshops & Trainings” page.

If you would like to become a trained facilitator to bring Bystander Intervention to your team, register for Train-the-Trainer on Nov. 5 and 12, 2019.


You can be a better bystander when you’re taking care of yourself first. There are many ways to care for your own mental health, and the U’s Mindfulness Center offers the opportunity to learn new skills some may find useful.

Mindfulness sessions teach participants how to slow down and pay attention to what is happening in the present moment, letting go of worries and fears about the future. In practice, mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on breathing, clearing the mind and refocusing on breathing.

More information about the University Counseling Center’s Mindfulness Center, SafeU Mindfulness Workshops and drop-in sessions can be found here.

Drop-in meditation sessions for this week

Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 | 3:30–4 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 | 12:30–1 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 | 8:30–9 a.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 | 3–4 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 | 12–12:30 p.m.

Mindful Self-Care Workshops | Hosted by University Counseling Center

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 | 3–4 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 | 9–9:30 a.m.

All sessions are located in Student Services Building (SSB) room 344.

J. Willard Marriott Library book list for SafeU Month

This is the third list of books available through the Marriott Library that are related to safety issues being highlighted during October, SafeU Month—which coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Each week will feature a new list.

    1. “Utah Women and the Law,” no author
    2. “Ending Campus Violence: New Approaches to Prevention,” Brian Van Brunt
    3. “We Believe You,” Annie Clark and Andrea Pino
    4. “Consent on Campus,” Donna Freitas
    5. “Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, & Consent on Campus,” Vanessa Grigoriadis
    6. “Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University,” Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach
    7. “Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus: Challenging Traditional Approaches through Program Innovation,” edited by Sara Carrigan Wooten
    8. “Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape,” Kelly Oliver
    9. “Reclamation: Survivors Anthology,” edited by Maria Polzin
    10. “We Will Not Be Silenced,” edited by Christine E. Ray
    11. “#MeToo,” edited by Deborah Alma
    12. “Milk and Honey,” Rupi Kaur
    13. “The Sun and Her Flowers,” Rupi Kaur
    14. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
    15. “Speaking Out Why I Stand,” Rachel Carter
    16. “Being Brave Again,” Anais Torres
    17. “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” Boston Women’s Health Collective and Judy Norsigian
    18. “Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror,” Judith Lewis Herman
    19. “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body,” Peter A. Levine
    20. “The PTSD Workbook,” Mary Williams and Soili Poijula
    21. “Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors,” Janina Fisher