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Bystander Program Yet To Meet Training Goals

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The University at Albany’s Empowered Bystander Training Program has yet to reach the intended goal of training a quarter of the student population by the end of the academic year, according to a university official.

Carol Stenger, director of the university’s Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence, stated that as of the end of the fall semester, 61 separate training programs were offered and the turnout was close to 2,500 people in total, but as of now they have not yet met their goal to train one-fourth of UAlbany students in bystander intervention.

“I know we will likely not meet the goal since it is more difficult to get people to attend in the spring semester, so we’re having some issues with that,” she said. “If we don’t meet the goal, we will look at ways to meet it for next year.”

Title IX Coordinator Chantelle Cleary said they are, “very close,” to the goal.

The Empowered Bystander Training program, run by Stenger and Cleary through the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention Project, is a series of 90-minute training sessions where facilitators teach students how to recognize sexual violence and safely intervene in sexually violent situations.

Despite not meeting their first year goal, Stenger said the program will continue to run on a regular basis due to the difference it makes in terms of reducing the number of sexual violence cases.

“One of the only means or methods that has been proven or shown to make changes in a campus culture, or rape culture if you will, has been training bystanders,” she said.

Cleary said she has also seen a difference since the start of the program.

“We’ve noticed an increase in students engaging as positive bystanders,” she said. “Part of my job is to track all known instances of sexual violence on the campus. As I receive these reports, I’m noticing that our students are intervening more frequently than I have noticed in the past couple of years.”

According to the UAlbany website, the training sessions are sponsored by the university’s Just Ask Campaign, a campaign, “designed to raise awareness about sexual violence… as well as facilitate a campus-wide conversation about this critical issue affecting college campuses nationwide.”

The training is voluntary with the exception of all student athletes, fraternity and sorority members, and other student leaders who are required to be trained under the Enough is Enough Law, a legislation signed into law in July 2015 to combat sexual assault on SUNY campuses.

Changes made to the training program for Spring 2017 concerning the training exercises and time management were small and not significant, according to Stenger

However, the program allows attendees to provide feedback for improvement and the fall semester evaluations that were sent out received a good response rate, she said.

“We’re about to do that for the spring semester for attendees, so we’re getting good feedback,” she said. “Once we get that feedback, we will sit down and ask what we think is going well, what the attendees think is going well, what the criticisms are, how can we make it better.”

The program will be offered four more times this semester between April 13 and May 5.


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