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Bystander Intervention program now includes online pledge

This is Consent Awareness Week at Queen’s, and while it is only the middle of September, thousands of students have already been trained on ways they can help stop and prevent sexual violence.

Bystander Pledge
Queen's students who have completed the training for the Bystander Intervention program can now fill out an online pledge that reflects their commitment to do what they can to promote a safe and respectful campus community.

And now, students who complete the training can fill out an online pledge that reflects their commitment to do what they can to promote a safe and respectful campus community.

The university has added this pledge to the Bystander Intervention program, as research has shown that taking the pledge increases an individual’s commitment to intervening in problematic situations.

“Our goal is ultimately to shift social norms in creating a culture of consent and one that supports survivors/victims of sexual violence,” says Lea Keren, Sexual Violence and Bystander Awareness Student Coordinator. “Though change is slow and it can feel daunting at times, the bystander pledge helps to reinforce the real, tangible ways that members of our community can contribute to that change. It creates a commitment to the very real and practical things that we can all be doing to prevent sexual violence.”

The university will track the number of pledges that are completed to help demonstrate Queen’s commitment to support a consensual campus environment.

When completing the pledge, participants are provided with a range of actions and behaviors they can use to foster a caring campus community. Suggestions include “believing and supporting survivors/victims of sexual assault”, “not being silent about sexual violence”, and “confronting sexist language, attitudes, and behaviors”.

The bystander intervention training is being delivered by a team of 13 undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled in faculties and schools across campus and with diverse backgrounds and experiences. It covers topics including how to navigate difficult conversations and focuses on the intersection of sexual violence with discrimination and harassment. The goal is to provide students with the tools needed to recognize and respond to sexual violence.

More than 22 sessions have been delivered since mid-August to campus leaders, including residence dons, orientation leaders, all AMS service staff, the Varsity Leadership Council, Peer Support Centre volunteers, and Engineering Society Exectutives.

The Bystander Intervention Team is also hosting an open session Thursday, Sept. 28 in Queen’s Centre Room 506 from 5:30-7 pm for any members of Queen’s community interested in learning how to respond to sexual violence. Participants are encouraged to register online in advance for the session.

​More sessions are scheduled in the coming days and weeks, and can be arranged for any club or group by request. To book a 45- or 90-minute session, contact Lea Keren, Sexual Violence and Bystander Awareness Student Coordinator, at svbystander@queensu.ca.