Duquela promotes Step Up

Mercyhurst’s Bystander Intervention Committee launched the Step Up Program in an effort to encourage students to step up in helping others experiencing mistreatment and not be a bystander.

The Step Up program is a national program that encourages students to be proactive in helping others in all types of ways. The Bystander Intervention Committee is currently using the Step Up campaign to advocate for sexual assault prevention at Mercyhurst.

Chair of the Bystander Intervention Committee and Assistant Director of Resident Life and Student Conduct, Sophomore Area, Rhina Duquela, said the committee is in charge of coming up with programming to bring awareness to students. This past fall, the committee, seeking a bystander intervention program to integrate into Mercyhurst, examined several different bystander intervention programs before choosing Step Up as their favorite.

“Right now the committee is trying to pull the resources from the Step Up program and add a webpage about how to not be a bystander, how to help your peers, how to make sure you are stepping up when you see something wrong,” said Duquela, “whether it is sexual assault or bullying or just anything bad.”

One of the main goals of the program is to encourage students to do the right thing when faced with difficult situations.

“We hope that you are not perpetuating it and we hope that you are not entertaining it. You are the person that says, ‘that was mean,’” Duquela said.

The members of the committee, which formed in October 2014, are trying to come up with new ideas for the program. For now they have been collaborating with other groups people who have events and ideas set up. Monday, April 13, they were part of the Take Back the Night march against sexual violence, hosted by Gannon University.

They are also partnering up with Crime Victim Center to support its third annual keynote speaker, former Olympic hockey player Theo Fleury, who will be speaking at the Bayfront Convention Center on Thursday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. Fleury was a professional hockey player who was sexually assaulted and now speaks out about the issue.

Duquela would like students to send Snapchats to the Mercyhurst account with the hashtag “Stepup” if attending the Theo Fleury lecture or any future event promoted by the committee.

Members of the committee include Vice-President of Student Life Laura Zickle and Assistant Professor in the Walker School of Business, Merry Bollheimer, J.D., among other staff members from Student Life. So far only two students are part of the committee. Duquela hopes that other students join in and help to brainstorm new ideas for the new campaign.
“We have contests and prizes we want to give away to students for spreading the word. We want student opinions on how to do that,” Duquela said.

Duquela is also looking for students to help further create the identity of the Step Up Program.

“We’d invite you to a committee meeting to see what the best way to get involved is. Whether it be by creating the flyers for the committee, whether it be just in charge of the social media aspect of it and those kind of things. We are fairly new so right now we are just creating ourselves,” Duquela said.

The committee is hosting a bystander intervention video contest as part of the Step Up program.

For the contest, students are asked to submit a video, no longer than two minutes, to bring awareness to the Step Up Program. The committee will judge the submitted videos and will give a $100 Amazon.com gift card to the student whose video is selected as the winner.

Duquela believes this campaign is crucial, due to the nature of college campuses. She believes it is imperative that students are able to react and not be bystanders to acts of violence of any form.

“It is important that you are safe in every situation and that your peers are safe in every situation,” said Duquela. “Whether it be to avoid bullying someone or to help someone else avoid it. Help avoid a man or a women leaving somewhere without being lucid enough to make the right decision, helping people out in those scenarios.”

If you are interested in getting involved with the bystander intervention committee and the Step Up program, email your request to stepup@mercyhurst.edu.