srv: being “OnStandby”

At Smith, when we notice something not okay, we do something. And “something” is anything that isn’t nothing. Stepping up as a bystander is one of the most effective ways to prevent SRV, right after making sure you always get consent! 

If you notice something not okay, such as:

  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Attempts to get someone drunk in order to “hook up”
  • Attempts to physically separate a person, to get them alone
  • Someone continuing to touch, talk to, or be near another person, after that person has asked them to stop

Do something, such as the “3 D’s”:

  • DELEGATE. Find a friend of one of the two people and let them know the situation is uncool. Ask them to step in and help their friend. Or get a friend to step in with one person while you step in with the other.
  • BE DIRECT. Take one person aside and talk to them about anything – the party, their drink, your toenails. Or step between the two people to diffuse the situation – you can just say, “Hiya! What’s up?” or “What’s going on?” Your presence will help diffuse the situation.
  • DISTRACT. Knock on the door. Or just walk in. Better to interrupt a scene than standing around while someone is assaulted. Say, “Hey, we need you downstairs,” or, “Is everybody okay?” or anything to change the mood.

At Smith, we call this being “OnStandby.” You’ll see some community members wearing orange power buttons, which indicate that they’ve gone through a formal training on how to intervene safely and effectively when they witness the precursors of SRV. To learn more about this  program, email us or comment below!

onstandby button

Effective bystanders:

  • ARE FRIENDLY. A calm, friendly approach helps to de-escalate violence, whereas a more aggressive approach could potentially escalate the situation. Also, being friendly will decrease any awkwardness you might feel. You’re not confronting, you’re just checking in.
  • CAN BE AS INTRUSIVE AS  NECESSARY. You’re making sure both people are safe. If the building were burning down, you’d break up the conversation or knock on the door, right?
  • STAY SAFE. The goal of being OnStandby is to reduce the risk of violence or harm, which means you should NEVER put yourself in harm’s war. Getting hurt yourself would defeat the purposes. Only step forward when it is safe to do so.
  • ASK FOR HELP. The Smith community is dedicated to creating safe communities—which means we’re all here to help each other. If you don’t feel comfortable stepping forward, just let someone else—your Res Life staff or other house leader, Campus Police, or even just a friend of yours— know what feels not okay to you.



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