RELEASE: GSS Active Bystander Program Launched to Train Graduate Students on Mitigating Sexual Assault and Harassment

on July 6, 2016
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Vancouver, BC – Addressing rising student concerns about sexual violence, harassment and discrimination on campus, the Graduate Student Society – UBC Vancouver (GSS) announces the launch of the GSS Active Bystander Program designed specifically to provide graduate students with tactics to mitigate incidences of sexual assault and cultural and gender harassment.

With a graduate-students-to-graduate-students approach, the Program has trained 13 volunteer students to become facilitators in June 2016. These volunteers will lead workshops to fellow graduate students at UBC Vancouver with the following outcomes:

  • Help empower fellow students on how to respond to discriminatory and hurtful language and behavior as they witness it
  • Understand the social elements that allow for sexual assault to exist
  • Explain active bystander and the bystander effect
  • Develop the ability to identify situations where action is needed and have the tools to act

Over the summer, the facilitators will train GSS Executives, staff, and councilors; and provide workshops for new UBC graduate students during the GSS Orientation Week. The facilitators will also be available to offer workshops for affiliated graduate student organizations at UBC in the fall and winter academic terms.

The GSS Active Bystander Program was one of three major initiatives organized in 2015 to address rising student concern about sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination on campus, with the other two being the creation of GSS Ad Hoc Committee on Harassment and Discrimination, and Mygradstory.ca. In November 2015, the GSS met with UBC Student Development & Services, as well as UBC Access and Diversity, Student Services, with a proposal to establish such program. UBC and GSS agreed to proceed with a program with input from the GSS to ensure content reflected graduate student experience and to have UBC Diversity and Access provide “facilitator” training to GSS volunteers.

“Active bystander programs have increasingly become a staple tool used by many universities to combat sexual assault on campuses,” says Gen Cruz, GSS President. “We would like to acknowledge for the support of Janet Mee, UBC Director of Diversity and Access, as well as the work of C.J. Rowe, UBC Diversity Advisor, Sexual Assault Intervention and Prevention, and Ashley Bentley, Manager of AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, who have made this program possible.”

For more information, please contact Gen Cruz, GSS President, at president@gss.ubc.ca.

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RELEASE: GSS Active Bystander Program Launched to Train Graduate Students on Mitigating Sexual Assault and Harassment