Be an Upstander (stand up!) not a Bystander…

As members of the Drew Community, we all share the responsibility to create a climate of respect – for each other and ourselves. We can often intervene in situations where someone’s safety is being threatened by their own or someone else’s behavior. You have many opportunities for intervention before a situation progresses and becomes a crisis. We can all do our part to prevent racism, sexism, heterosexism, interpersonal violence, bullying, sexual assault, alcohol or drug poisoning.

Factors that Influence Intervention

  • Diffusion of responsibility (“Lots of people are around. Someone else will probably do something about it.”)
  • It’s unclear that there is an emergency
  • Perceived personal cost is too high
  • Perception that the prospective victim is inviting danger by being drunk, dressing provocatively, etc.
  • Similarities between the bystander and the potential offender (Someone who shares a lot in common with a potential offender will be less likely to act against them)
  • Apathetic mood
  • The bystander’s gender may influence their perception of whether it’s appropriate to get involved
  • Social norms (Intervening is easier when peers are nearby to approve of your actions)

ABCs of intervention

  • ASSESS Safety and Risk – nonverbal and non-verbal cues will help you determine whether there is a problem or risky situation. E.g. if you observe someone too intoxicated to protect themselves from being taken advantage of; or if someone seems to be overpowered by another, being cut off, looking cornered; determine if there seems to be a risk of physical violence.
  • BRING in reinforcements – you don’t have to act alone. Ask friends to accompany you to intervene. Contact an RA or RD. Call Public Safety’s 24 hour emergency number: 973-408-4444.
  • CARE for the person at risk or victim; Don’t leave someone at risk alone, get them to a safe place. If the person has been victimized help them find resources/options. Be a listening ear. Listen to their fears and concerns for safety. Pay attention to cries for help and take action. While caring for others, remember to care for yourself. Don’t try to do everything yourself, get your friend to use professional help. You can bring them to the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services or come in yourself to talk. Counseling is confidential!
  • CONFRONT the potential perpetrator if you deem it safe. Challenge sexist, homophobic, racist, or disrespectful language. Don’ t let someone take a person away when they appear unable to consent to leaving because of force, intoxication, or pressure. Don’t do this alone if you don’t feel safe! Don’t argue with drunk people.

Strategies When Faced with Possible Sexual Assault

  • CHALLENGE the potential assailant before the assault happens.
  • DISTRACT either party by focusing their attention on something else.
  • SEPARATE the potential victim from the potential attacker.
  • DELEGATE to someone in a better position to help.

Direct or Indirect Interventions

  • Direct Actions: Point out someone’s disrespectful behavior in a manner that will help de-escalate the situation, pull a friend aside and talk tothem alone to ensure he/she is okay, call the police
  • Indirect Action: Recommend to a bartender or party host that someone has had too much to drink, make up an excuse to help someone get away from a potential offender, and call the local authorities

Know your options. Once you’ve decided whether you want to handle the situation directly or indirectly (or a little of both), think of all the possible options for doing so. For instance, if you’ve decided to speak directly to the person displaying problematic behavior, do you want to do it right there in the moment, or take them aside later? If you want to deal with it indirectly, what resources can you access to help you handle the problem?


It takes courage to challenge negative behavior. If you think it is too uncomfortable to intervene in a dangerous situation, remember: Not intervening does the offender a favor.