By Kelsey Allen
Cleveland State’s Helping You Through Peer Education (also known as H.Y.P.E.) team is holding Empowered Bystander Training sessions this November for any student that wants to gain a better understanding of how to change an unsafe situation that they observe on campus.
H.Y.P.E team is filled with certified peer educators that strive to help students develop skills to help in healthy decision making and role-modeling in their everyday life.
In addition to Bystander Awareness Training, the H.Y.P.E. team has also run programs to teach students about alcohol, tobacco and drugs, general wellness, sexual violence prevention, sexual health and suicide prevention. To accomplish this, peer educators are trained fully on each subject.
“Everyone starts with the nationally certified peer education training,” Denise Keary, H.Y.P.E. team’s faculty advisor, said.
The 65 current members of the entirely volunteer-based H.Y.P.E. team are all nationally certified peer educators that have undergone a minimum of eight hours of extensive training via the BACCHUS Network.
The training covers the various goals and missions of peer educating, active listening skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, referrals and interventions. Peer educators must have a thorough understanding of the Clery Act and Title IX, and a code of ethics is strictly followed.
“Aside from that,” Keary said, “[peer educators] learn listening skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, how to talk to someone who might be in crisis or just might need to talk.”
In training, they learn what it means to be a peer educator, how important the team element of the organization is, the duties involved in their roles of educator and activist, and, most importantly, how vital it is to take time out of their busy days to take care of themselves first.
Keary makes it a priority to check in on the peer educators’ mental health on a regular basis. She aims to make it clear that it’s okay for them to admit when there’s too much on their plate, and even to ask for help.
After their extensive training, peer educators can opt to specialize in a certain module. These modules include suicide prevention education, sexual violence prevention education, alcohol and other drugs, fitness, nutrition and stress management. Any student meeting certain requirements can apply to be a peer educator.
The upcoming program from H.Y.P.E. team, Empowered Bystander Awareness Training, comes from the sexual violence education training module. Bystander Awareness Training teaches students to recognize an unsafe situation in the real world as well as how to intervene.
Students learn three different ways to intervene in an unsafe situation during Bystander Awareness Training. The first is to distract by talking directly to someone. Then, you diffuse the situation by continuing to talk or changing the subject. You can also delegate by getting someone else involved, such as Campus Police or someone who can better help the situation.
“The whole idea of being an empowered bystander,” Keary said, “Involves knowing what to do in order to be the catalyst of change and changing an unsafe situation on campus.”