Apr 19, 2023 | By: Justin Othoudt

Bemidji State University Holds Proactive Bystander Training Session

When an emergency situation occurs, it can be difficult to offer assistance and help those in need. In order to be a proactive bystander, one needs to be prepared to handle an emergency situation, and Bemidji State University recently offered a presentation on just that.

“I talked a lot about ways that students can effectively intervene in situations on campus that make things not so great. So ranging from sexual assault, to standing up to racism, homophobia, transphobia,” explained Dr. Judith Zatkin, BSU Assistant Professor of Psychology. “And I gave them some distinct strategies that they could use and practice in order to effectively intervene when something is not sitting right with them.”

This training was meant to help students identify ways they can intervene as safely as possible, without risking harming those in an emergency situation or themselves.

“Seeing a room full of people who are willing to learn what they need to do in these circumstances is inspiring to know that our future is brighter with these kind of people present,” said Support Within Reach Beltrami County SEY Coordinator Kathy Gordon.

A large portion of the day’s session consisted of providing situations that might occur on campus, and having attendees discuss how they might prevent and deescalate troubling situations in a safe way.

“I kind of feel like if I were put into the position where I need to be a proactive bystander, I’d be a lot more comfortable doing it because I went to these trainings,” said BSU Lifestyle Educators President Peyton Barber.

“If you don’t know what to do, you’ll just freeze up and not know how to help, so this was really important to give,” said BSU Active Minds President, Janine Speight.

Workshops like these ensure that students have the tools to support their community and to prevent harrowing scenarios, like the ones discussed, from happening within the Bemidji area.

“The more education and more ability we grant to these people to use that voice, the stronger that community is going to become,” said Gordon.

This event was co-sponsored by Support Within Reach, an organization that works to serve those impacted by the effects of sexual violence.

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