Campus Life

Student leaders “Step UP!” to advocate for peers

step-up-logoLaunched in fall 2016, “Step UP! Oglethorpe” activates student Advocates passionate about teaching their peers how to be leaders in various social situations.

Step UP! is a prosocial behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others in areas such as sexual violence prevention, alcohol abuse deterrence, anti-bias dialogue and more.

The goals of Step UP! are to:

• Raise awareness of helping behaviors
• Increase motivation to help
• Develop skills and confidence when responding to problems or concerns
• Ensure the safety and well-being of self and others

In order to be considered an official Advocate, students pass through 4 steps to be certified.

  1. Students apply to be a part of the program. In the first two weeks that the Step UP! form was online, more than 30 students submitted an application.
  2. Selected students are invited to take part in an initial, two-hour long training that discusses the importance of bystander intervention and general tactics necessary to combat the bystander effect, conformity, and diffusion of responsibility.
  3. Trained bystanders are consulted one-on-one about which negative social behavior they would most like to raise the bar of awareness on our campus.
  4. Students are then given the resources they need to write their own presentation to help their peers understand how to combat such a situation. Some of the most recent presentations have even included ideas on how to identify and help those going through depression and eating disorders.
A “snowball” ice breaker activity allows students a chance to answer tough questions anonymously during training.

A “snowball” ice breaker activity allows students a chance to answer tough questions anonymously during Advocate training.

Several students are now certified as full-fledged Advocates, and a web page will soon be available that details each theme these students are trained on presenting. The hope is that Step UP! will serve as a type of speakers bureau that allows university professors, departments, and student organizations an opportunity to request specific student presentations based on their needs.

One example of such a partnership took place during Safety Week in October, when the Residence Hall Association asked for a presentation about alcohol abuse, that was well-received by first-year students.

“It’s not enough to just know the biological effects of alcohol,” said sophomore presenter Lane Edwards. “My presentation teaches how students should respond when their friend has too much to drink. As an Oglethorpe community member, it is your responsibility to be a leader and step up in these situations.”

If you would like to apply as a potential Advocate or request a listing of Step UP! presenters and their topics, please email Shane Pruitt, director of student engagement & leadership.

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