Mentors encourage students to act

Mentors encourage students to act

(From right to left): Students Colin Jones, Natalie Rosborough, Cory Obringer and Rachel Tima sign pledges to not be bystanders.

Eden Cohen, Copy Editor

The Academic Success Center staff and the Academic and Personal Success Mentors tackled the bystander effect last week by hosting three events, together called the Bystander Intervention Program, for the first time at Pitt-Johnstown.

Four mentors kicked off the program Oct. 7, students Cliff Maloney, Chadwick Dolgos, Tessa Smith and Will Dixon.

They told anecdotes to approximately 25 people about not intervening when someone is in trouble, and gave a call for action to combat the bystander effect.

Maloney and Kalea Pollick explained the bystander effect Oct. 8, in Heritage Hall.

The bystander effect is when onlookers of an incident choose not to interfere, they said. The more people who witness an incident, the less likely someone will help.

Success Center Director Kate Kinsinger helped organize the events. She said the program’s purpose is to raise awareness among students and encourage them to help others.

“We wanted to spread the word about the bystander effect and to encourage that sense of responsibility if fellow students are experiencing difficult times, and to get help in emergency situations,” Kinsinger said.

In addition to freshmen getting extra credit points in University Scholarship for attending, Kinsinger said students gained intrinsic value.

“(Students benefit) to be exposed to these kind of issues and ideas,” Kinsinger said.

If students stop the bystander effect, campus would be a safer place, she said.

In addition, the mentors aimed to use the program as a way to become more active on campus.

“(The mentors) set a goal to become more involved on campus outside of the University Scholarship classroom,” Kinsinger said.

To increase the program’s reach, the event was repeated Oct. 9. Mentors Tessa Smith and Cassie LaFramboise continued to explain the effect in Heritage Hall.

Both nights, the presenters explained situations when the bystander effect could occur, variables that influence onlookers’ actions and strategies for helping.

The audience divided into groups and considered scenarios and how best to respond to them. The exercise’s purpose was to make students think about ways to safely intervene.

Also at the Heritage Hall event Oct. 9, UPJ police Sgt. Nancy Turner provided the police phone numbers and said students should call if police are needed.

At each event’s conclusion, students were encouraged to sign a pledge entitled “Part of the Solution.” Students were also able to sign a pledge at a Student Union table Oct. 7-10. Kinsinger said 165 pledges were signed and will be displayed in the center.

Kinsinger said the program was a success. She said about 150 students total attended the three events. She said she was pleased with the mentors’ performances and student participation. She said she considers the programs goals of raising awareness and increasing the mentors’ activities to be fulfilled.

Pollick ended the Oct. 8 event with a plea to her fellow students.

“Please don’t let bystander behavior be a part of your life here at Pitt-Johnstown,” she said.