Stand for State provides the tools for Penn Staters to stop violence

A student organizes stickers

Senior Taylor Sweeney, a Stand for State student ambassador, organized stickers Jan. 14 that will be shipped to campuses in preparation for the launch of Stand for State. University Park’s launch is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the HUB-Robeson Center.  

Credit: Bill Zimmerman

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Stand for State, an initiative aimed at empowering Penn Staters to stand up for one another, will kick off University-wide the week of Jan. 25.

The culmination of two years of planning, Stand for State promotes bystander intervention and its place in preventing sexual and relationship violence. Bystander intervention is based on the fact that people make decisions and continue behaviors based on the reactions they receive from others. Bystander intervention encourages others to intervene and promotes a sense of responsibility, which gives the bystander motivation to step in and take action to prevent sexual misconduct.

University Park’s Stand for State launch is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the HUB-Robeson Center. Informational tables featuring free food and activities will be found throughout the HUB. Stamp cards will be available at seven stations, and students who visit every table can enter a drawing for gift cards at local businesses. Students can also earn Stand for State items such as pens, laptop stickers and T-shirts, depending on the number of stations visited.

"I'm excited for the official launch of Stand for State because students, faculty and staff are ready for it,” said coordinator Katie Tenny. “It's not that people don't care about this issue. They do care and don't want their friends or peers to get hurt. Really simply, this initiative is about giving people realistic and safe options to step in and help when a person may be in harms way, as well as how to create a safer campus community for everyone. Last semester, we piloted a few workshops, and students are already coming back and sharing stories about times when they've diffused situations that could have led to someone getting hurt."

Stand for State uses a bystander intervention curriculum created by Green Dot, a national leader in violence prevention education. Green Dot is built on the premise that in order to measurably reduce harm in a community, a cultural shift is necessary. As people engage in new behaviors to reduce violence and harm (which are labeled as red dots), the new prevention behaviors are called green dots. The key tactics for intervening and removing someone from harm’s way are Green Dot’s Three D’s: direct, delegate and distract.

“I am incredibly optimistic about the effectiveness of Stand for State,” said senior Rick Groves, student engagement team member. “Empowered by those who came before us, our generation is more equipped than any other to finally end sexual violence. The University has pledged its full support, and Stand for State provides the vehicle to solve this problem. But we need student buy-in for it to work.”

Stand for State kickoff events are planned on the following days at these campuses:

Jan. 25: Berks, DuBois, Wilkes-Barre, Lehigh Valley

Jan. 26: Great Valley, Brandywine, Harrisburg

Jan. 27: Altoona, Beaver, Behrend, Fayette, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill

Jan. 28: Abington, Greater Allegheny, York

Jan. 29: Hazleton, Hershey

Green Dot provided four-day training sessions in June and November, educating a total of about 200 faculty, staff and administrators. The workshops focused on providing participants with the skills to recognize potentially problematic situations, step in and diffuse the situations when appropriate, and seek help when needed.

In 2016, those trained will implement bystander intervention workshops for student leaders.

In coming years, Stand for State will expand to cover bystander intervention for mental health-related issues, bias-related incidents, and risky drinking and drug use. 

Stand for State is part of a University-wide effort to combat sexual assaults. In February, Penn State President Eric Barron endorsed all 18 recommendations, including creation of a bystander intervention program, presented to him by a University task force.

“Stand for State is an integral part of our strategy to fight sexual violence and establish Penn State as a leader in making campuses safer," Barron said. "It’s encouraging that so many have taken time to attend sessions and be trained, and I commend them for being part of the solution. For Penn Staters looking to take a stand and make a difference, this initiative is an emphatic first step.”

For more information, follow #StandforState on social media or email [email protected].