Letter to the student body from ASAP

We are writing today, as the co-coordinators of ASAP, to both announce a new program that we will be initiating in the spring semester and to ask for your help in making that program the best it can be.

ASAP is currently developing a bystander intervention workshop. This is new territory for us, but we feel that this is an important resource that our campus currently lacks. Our decision to create these workshops grew directly out of feedback we received from other students following this year’s ASAP workshops. Many students told us about negative experiences in which they had wished someone else had intervened; even more students admitted that they had seen a situation that they felt was wrong, but that they did not feel able to intervene. The student efforts to bring Jackson Katz to campus further emphasize that students are interested and invested in creating a cultural shift around our perceptions of individual and collective responsibility. We’ve been working for the last few months to develop frameworks, strategies, and implementation plans that will make sense for all of us moving forwards. While we are using the professional expertise and feedback of Nina Harris and Beth Kotarski to ensure this program is in keeping with best practices, this is fundamentally a student-led effort to create student-to-student programs, based on student-voiced concerns.

To make our workshops as effective as possible, we would like to ground these workshops in the real experiences of students. Although the testimonials used in ASAP workshops are difficult to hear and can be problematic for survivors, they are also the single most effective tool we have found for communicating the reality of violence on our campus. If we are to change our campus climate surrounding bystander intervention, we must first acknowledge that the scenarios we’re discussing are real problems. Real harm has been done by real people to real people–none of these are hypothetical, straw-man suggestions for things that “could” happen.

This all came about because students have said, “I wish someone did something,” and “I wish I knew what to do.” Now is the time for you to tell us about those situations, so that we can work towards empowering others to intervene in the future. We would like to invite students to submit brief descriptions or narrative accounts of their personal experiences. Both direct-involvement and bystander accounts will be extremely useful in making this workshop an accurate reflection of student life here at Swat, as well as making the skills learned as directly applicable as possible to student concerns. For the privacy of all parties concerned, personally identifying information will be removed if you submit a narrative with names and places.”

We hope that letting our attendees practice their intervention skills in a targeted, concrete way will serve as a salient reminder to us all that the workshop’s principles are grounded in reality, and that we as students have very real power to shape and improve the outcomes of these situations as they arise around us.

If you would like to submit a narrative for ASAP to use in the workshop, or if you have questions or concerns about the workshops in general, please don’t hesitate to contact mfirke1@swarthmore.edu. We look forward to hearing from you.

With warmth,

Mar Firke ‘14
Rebecca Ruby Ahmad ‘14
Alexander Noyes, ‘15
Nora Kerrich, ‘16
Co-Coordinators, Acquaintance Sexual Assault Prevention

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