By Paige Lusczky, contributing writer
If you have taken a Physical Education class on campus, you are aware that it is a requirement to go to an extra class, outside of class hours, on Bystander Intervention Training hosted by the campus Step UP! Program. For a lot of new UMF students, Bystander Intervention Training is all they hear from the campus Step UP! Program. So, why is it such a big deal?
“Step UP! is a prosocial behavior and Bystander Intervention Program that educates participants to be proactive in helping others” as said by the National Step UP! Program.
UMF Step UP! Program advisor and UMF counselor, Gavin Pickering, said “UMF prides ourselves on being a supportive and caring campus” and “this program provides tangible procedures and action steps to support.”
“Students will become each other’s allies and have the confidence to go to parties or walk around campus knowing that there is someone in the vicinity who has their back and is willing to step in,” said the original proposer of the program coming to UMF, Professor Kathy Kemp.
The Step UP! Program not only promotes Bystander Intervention but also the “Seize the Awkward” campaign about reaching out to those who may be suffering from mental health and trauma. When the program was originally proposed as an Honors Enrichment Proposal with Kemp, it was written that “[UMF] needs to talk about violence, and be able to say the words rape, consent, and abuse, without a backlash of scoffing, head-turning, and eye rolls.”
The program has a large group of UMF student involvement but has unfortunately been pushed to the background because of the pandemic. “We have a lot of big ideas but we can’t do as much as we would like,” Pickering said.
You can mainly see student workers promoting it by tabeling or getting involved with Community Assistants and the resident halls. Currently, the Step UP! Program is also working with the Campus Safety Project to evaluate what else they could be doing.
Around Halloween, the Step UP! Program was tabeling to inform students on what type of Halloween Costumes would be considered cultural appropriation. With UMF sitting on Native American Land, it is important to promote respect for all cultures and not use them as a costume. Last year, the group tabled for National Women’s Day as well.
Pickering believes that it is important that students be involved in the Step UP! Program because “getting information from peers is more meaningful to students than being told by authority figures” and students “have to help each other too.” This is why Step UP! is even considered a work-study job opportunity on campus.
The campus Step UP! Program is a “challenge for people to change the culture,” Pickering said. Pickering believes for those who want to see change, the program is an “opportunity to pay students to implement change on campus.”
There are three work-study positions available, if interested, please contact Pickering at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you would like more information about the national program, please go to StepUpProgram.org.