In the Spotlight: Bystander intervention techniques we love

For use with bias incidents (e.g. a hurtful slur, joke, social media post, etc., often targeting a specific race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other marginalized group)

Direct Intervention:

  • “Hey man, that’s not cool.”
  • “Dude, really?”
  • “How do you think that person would feel if they heard that?”
  • “Please don’t say that.”
  • “Why do you have that screensaver?” or “Really dude? That screensaver?”
  • “Hey, can you take that down?” or suggest another image
  • Tell them it’s inappropriate
  • Explain which groups on campus could be offended or hurt
  • Tell them not to use those words – share your own story to build empathy
  • Remind them that we don’t┬átolerate that
  • Ask “Why is that funny?”
  • Ask “What do you mean when you say that?”
  • Wait until a later date/time to say something.

Indirect Intervention:

  • Create a distraction
  • Change the subject “…so did anybody see the game last night?”
  • Leave the room
  • Don’t laugh
  • Walk away
  • Talk to a friend
  • Talk to a professor
  • Report it to the Dean or other authority figure
  • (for RAs) Pretend you’re doing rounds
  • Call Public Safety
  • Ignore the person
  • Do a fake spit-take
  • Find friends to support you
  • Talk to your friend in private afterwards
  • Spill your drink
  • Talk to staff ie. Chartwells or Infohub staff
  • Make a funny facial expression that conveys what they said is not ok

For use in situations where sexual violence could potentially occur:

Direct Intervention:

  • “Hey man, she looks pretty drunk.”
  • “Are you okay? Do you want to go home?”
  • “Hey, that’s not cool”
  • Have an honest conversation about what’s going on
  • Insert yourself between them and act oblivious, i.e. “intentional cock-blocking” so they don’t end up alone together
  • “Dude, really?”

Indirect Intervention:

  • Create a distraction to get the person out of the situation
  • Yell “Someone called the cops!” (even if it’s not true)
  • Text your friend to see if they need you
  • Spill your drink on someone! “Oh, I’m so sorry. Let’s go to the bathroom and clean you up.” (Then you can ask if they’re okay in private)
  • Create code words/gestures to use with your friends ahead of time. For example, scratching your eyebrow means “We need to leave.”
  • Call 911 or Public Safety
  • Get the party host, bartender, or bouncer for help
  • Give someone the “murder smile” or “death stare” to make them uncomfortable
  • Find the person’s friends and let them know what’s going on

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