Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Reflection Moment: The Importance of Bystander Intervention

Our country is currently in a moment of reflection. And as everyone discusses the political changes that may occur, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of our allies out there, and ask that everyone remember to love and respect each other. We as a community (in STEM, and specifically in both Astronomy and Planetary Science) have been discussing allyship and bystander intervention for some time now, but these discussions have increased in intensity in the past year.

An illustrative guide to bystander intervention from Maeril. Thank you to Maeril (twitter: +itsmaeril) for giving us permission to use this illustration!

Bystander intervention can help in moments of unease, when an individual (or individuals) verbally assault(s) another person or group. This verbal harassment traditionally is due to prejudices based off of an individual’s personal characteristics (i.e. race, gender, religion, disability status, LGBTIQQA+ status, etc). During a time when hateful rhetoric has intensified, I’d like to post a simple reminder to folks that bystander intervention is a critical step to stopping this behavior, and helps the most vunerable within our communities to deal with these types of acts of violence. The illustrative guide showed above, and created by artist and illustrator Maeril shows just one example of how bystander intervention can help those being attacked.

The University of Arizona’s C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program (in partnership with the NCAA) developed a bystander intervention program called Step UP! The program includes basic bystander training for a variety of topics, including anger, discrimination, sexual assault, etc. Theses resources are meant to start the conversation on bystander intervention.

I’m hopeful we can all remember the importance of love and respect in moments like this. Differing opinions and sentiments are okay, but threats, harassment, and assault are simply never acceptable. I am privileged to continue in my work (including with the CSWA) to create and safe and inclusive environment in our field and will always be available as a resource for members of this community.

This post in meant to represent the individual views of Christina Richey.