StudCo backs Get Grounded

Student-initiated

Student Council's representative body voted in favor of a resolution endorsing the values and work of the "Let's Get Grounded Campaign" yesterday night.

According to the resolution, which was sponsored by Council President Colin Hood, the campaign is a "student-run initiative proposed to combat the social norm of bystander behavior, that is, to encourage and empower students, faculty and staff to recognize, react and respect at the University of Virginia." Fourth-year Architecture student Danielle MacGregor, who played an integral role in the creation of the campaign during the last few months, said the idea for the campaign was created by a coalition of student leaders during this summer's Leadership 2000 program.

"We started talking about some trends or issues we see around Grounds - anything from drug to alcohol abuse to violence and biased comments," MacGregor said. "A general sense of things that happened in the spring led us to this, and to question why this is happening in our community and what we can do to change it."

MacGregor said the campaign has three pillars: recognize, react and respect.

"We thought those represented what the students and everyone at U.Va. ought to keep in the back of their minds," MacGregor said. "We talk a lot about the community of trust, so we figured engaging students in this more active role was a goal of ours."

Furthermore, MacGregor added that there are two components to the campaign that fall under the three pillars: bystander training and hosting events.

"We identified that a huge problem we saw was a theme we saw on Grounds - people being passive bystanders, seeing something but not doing anything," MacGregor said, such as seeing someone make violent of discriminatory comments without reacting appropriately.

The one- to one-and-one-half-hour training session will empower students to be more active in their communities, she added. Details concerning events related to the campaign, however, are still "up in the air," but the idea is to engage the University community in active discussion, MacGregor said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Lampkin said a pledge would be involved in the process.

"The first part is the pledging campaign, so there will be pledge cards," Lampkin said. "Students are being trained to learn how to address each other and talk to each other about sometimes difficult conversations."

Lampkin also said she and a few other administrators and staff members in the Office of the Dean of Students worked with the student coalition during the summer to establish the campaign's fundamental goals and tenements.

"The students had discussions throughout the summer and they checked back in with me every few weeks," Lampkin said. "I met with them two or three times over the summer when they wanted to think through what might or might not work, or how they might get some resources, and we eventually combined our collective thoughts."

As of last night, 72 percent of Council's executive committee, representative body and cabinet members were trained for the campaign's purposes, Vice President for Administration Jen Bristol said. She added, however, that training will be open to all students following the Day of Dialogue, an event hosted by the President's Office that will take place Sept. 24.

"The training was developed by two staff members in [the] Center for Alcohol and Substance Education at U.Va., and they developed the program with a few universities that were doing something about the bystander effect," MacGregor said. "We've tailored it to adapt to our program."

She also hopes to have 20-30 student trainers, who will then be available to host trainings for other members of the University community.

"Students talking to their peers on these issues is more effective than a faculty or staff member," MacGregor said, explaining that student interaction is more engaging and well-received by other students.

And as far as benchmarks go, MacGregor said the goal is to have 1,000 students trained by the time the Day of Dialogue takes place. Most of these 1,000 trained individuals will be members of student organizations who will spread their acquired knowledge from there, but the ultimate goal is to train the entire student body.


Published September 1, 2010 in News









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