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Netflix and Chill event teaches students about bystander intervention

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Marshall University’s Residence Hall Association and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity sponsored an event Thursday to teach about bystander intervention.

The event focused on bystander intervention and preventing sexual assault, as well as the different ways people can help. Leah Tolliver, the director of Marshall’s Women’s Center and host of the event, said bystander intervention plays a key role in preventing sexual assault.

“It’s important for people to recognize that we’re not just targeting potential victims,” Tolliver said. “What we’re doing is trying to engage all of the people on campus and in our community in the best practices and best ways that they can intervene.”

Tolliver also said people tend to view sexual assault as an interpersonal problem, where in reality it is a societal problem.

“There are ways that each individual can help,” Tolliver. “Each of us can play a little role.”

When it comes to dealing with this problem, Tolliver said she believes the primary concern should be on assault prevention and reducing the stigma of people coming forward, not reducing one’s risk of being assaulted, although this remains important.

“People have a right to speak out,” Tolliver said. “They should be speaking out. Risk prevention can’t be the only strategy, because that’s still putting a lot of responsibility on not being assaulted on the potential victim.”

Tolliver said there are many ways someone can prepare themselves, but in the end there is only one person who can stop sexual assault every time: the assaulter themselves.

“We started with the idea of having a sexual assault education program,” Kelsie Dillard, the vice president of the RHA, said. “Another one of our members came up with this idea.”

Kelsea Pingley, the president of RHA, said bystander intervention was a topic that was not brought up as much as it should be in sexual assault discussions.

“Students should try to get more educated on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses,” Pingley said.

Victims of or witness to sexual assault are encouraged to act and come forward, Tolliver said. The Marshall University Police Department is available 24/7 at 304-696-4357. Other resources are also available, such as Marshall’s Counseling Center and the Rape Crisis Center.

Sam Phillips can be contacted at [email protected]

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