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Incoming Corps Leadership Attends Bystander Training

FullTextImage/img/@altDeirdre Feeney leads a bystander training session for next year's Corps leadership. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.

LEXINGTON, Va., May 6, 2014 – Next year’s Corps leadership spent an afternoon last week learning when to step up and help out in a bystander intervention training session. The program, which took place Thursday in Gillis Theater, encouraged the cadets to notice what’s happening around them, investigate and interpret events that attract their attention, assume personal responsibility, be knowledgeable about how to help, and be determined to do so.

Federal law requires that all new cadets and new employees receive this training. Others must be informed through VMI’s continuous prevention and awareness programming. The NCAA-endorsed Step-Up program was selected by VMI as the most appropriate bystander intervention program for VMI cadets and employees.

“We wanted a bystander intervention program that covered a wide variety of challenges facing college campuses,” said Col. Bill Grace, VMI’s inspector general and Title IX coordinator, as he briefly addressed the 70 cadets and staff members before introducing the instructor, Deirdre Feeney.

Feeney, a health educator at the University of Virginia’s Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, talked to cadets about recognizing the need for “pro-social” behavior to bring about a change in culture.

“Step-Up is designed for students to gain the knowledge and skills to be more aware of situations, and to identify a situation that might be an emergency or one that might need an intervention,” Feeney said.

She presented cadets and staff with video scenarios in which bystander actions were needed, but not always taken. These scenarios provided a starting point for discussion between Feeney and cadets about how to recognize problems and appropriately and safely handle them.

“The second portion of Step-Up is to give students the skills of, ‘How am I going to intervene? Is it safe to intervene? What are the possible ways I might be able to do it?’” Feeney explained.

Cadets in attendance included next year’s regimental, battalion, and company leaders, as well as members of the Cadet Equity Association and cadet peer educators. They will use the bystander training to educate next year’s 4th and 3rd class cadets about a range of issues including alcohol abuse, depression, and sexual assault.

Gordie Center representatives will return to VMI in August to refresh Corps leaders, and VMI employees will also receive this training.

--Daniel Stinnett ’07

 -VMI-