Become an Active Bystander

I’m sure most people have heard this phrase from time to time. Some of you might have even attended training at work or school about bystander intervention or some other sort of active bystander training. So, why do we keep reminding you? What about it is so crucial? And why ought you care about it?

Some might argue that bystander intervention is a complicated thing; that you need special training or that it’s easier to look the other way. And, I would say sure. It is absolutely easier to look the other way, but it's better to remain steadfast and stick up for our communities. By now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, "How do I do that? "

There are tons of different ways that you can be an active bystander, and they’re so easy! Sometimes, it just takes saying something, calling in help, or filling out an incident report to help others get the information and take the action that needs to be done.

Now that we have talked about why it is so important to be an active bystander, let's make sure we are on the same page about what an active bystander is.

“An active Bystander is someone who sees a problematic situation and chooses to take action.”

Anyone can be an active bystander, and here are a few quick and easy steps to help you do it!

  1. Notice the Event
  2. Interpret it as a problem
  3. Assume Responsibility 
  4. Know your role
  5. Step up!

Don’t forget when acting in the moment, assess your own safety, and understand your surroundings before intervening. It is totally okay to call someone else and let them know if you are ever worried about your safety. Another great way you can be an active bystander while keeping some distance is to fill out an incident report. An incident report (IR) is a form you can fill out to describe an incident or problem you notice that is then shared with the University to help intervene. Filling out an IR is super easy, and you just need a few details!

  1. How you are affiliated with the university (you can also choose to be anonymous)
  2. A date and time of the incident
  3. Describe the incident
  4. Say who was involved (if you don’t know just try and be as descriptive as possible)
  5. Location of the incident
  6. Upload any pictures, video or documents that might be useful

You can find the incident report form on the homepage of the housing website here. It is super easy to fill out, and only takes a few minutes. You can fill out an IR for a number of things, and these are just a few situations that might make it necessary.

  1. Bias Incident (an act of hostility motivated by prejudice, often identity based.)
  2. Policy Violation (you can refresh your knowledge on HRE policies here.)
  3. Concerning behavior (an IR doesn’t always have to be because something bad happened, never feel bad about checking in on your U crew)
  4. Discrimination 
  5. Conduct Violation

As you have heard before, if you see something, say something! Sharing concerns doesn’t make you bad; it makes you a positive contributor to your community. It is vital that we all do our part to make the places we live in  safe and welcoming as we can for everyone, no matter our differences.

JFK said,

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone.”


Of course JFK was speaking about going to the moon, but the sentiment is the same. Reporting and experiencing a bias incident isn’t easy, but is worth the difficulty.

Incident Report Form Direct Link

Sam Dalton
Outreach Housing Ambassador

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