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Creating a Culture of Respect: Bystander Intervention

What is a culture of respect?

Shepherd University is committed to providing an equitable, inclusive, and respectful campus culture and environment, free from any form of harassment, discrimination, or violence. A culture of respect includes social attitudes, behaviors, and norms that promote and support this type of campus culture and environment.  Fraternity and Sorority Life enthusiastically supports the principles outlined in Shepherd University’s Civility Code.

Why do we do this?

Creating a cultural of respect and human dignity is important for the retention of members. We want to create an environment where our students feel welcome and supported, where they feel comfortable expressing themselves, where they feel comfortable talking openly to each other, and where they feel comfortable talking about issues or concerns without fear of judgment or retaliation. A fraternity or sorority chapter is where members are supposed to be at home; the FSL community is supposed to be their home, and our campus is supposed to be their home. Shepherd’s motto is “You Belong Here,” but how can students and members feel that way when brothers or sisters are creating a culture that allows for microaggressions, bullying, hazing, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, sexism, etc.? They can’t, which is why it is really important for our staff and students to develop that groundwork, work on being inclusive individually and systemically.

Not only is creating a culture of respect and human dignity important for the retention of current members, but it is equally important for the recruitment of new members. We teach PNMs our values from the beginning of recruitment. Are the values we speak of congruent with the behaviors and attitudes we portray in our daily lives and within our groups? If the answer is no, what can we do to change that narrative to be more congruent? Not only will this help us be more welcoming and inclusive to new members, but it will also attract similar people our way. We are very focused on values-based recruitment, and we want members joining for the right reasons, but we also need to instill it in ourselves what those reasons, what those values are, how to portray that to the rest of the community.

How do we do this?

“Stand Up, Don’t Stand By” is Shepherd’s homegrown Bystander Intervention Program that encourages all members of the campus community to take action. If you see something, say something! Your action to take a stand can positively impact the lives of those in our community. Rams can use the 3D’s to remember helpful techniques of how they can be an active bystander. Remember, an active bystander is just another way to say ally!

  1. Direct: Call it like you see it! Directly intervene to stop a situation or check in with a person directly to see if they need help.
  2. Distract: Create a diversion to interrupt the situation. A slight interruption can change the course of events (e.g., “I think your car is being towed!”).
  3. Delegate: Ask someone for help. Someone with more authority to address the situation may be able to intervene in a way that is safer or more effective.

Other ways to help create a culture of respect include:

Check out the Social Justice Project and the Office of Social Equity for more information and events.