What is an Active Bystander?

Here is a definition for our use:

Originally used in communities fighting against violence toward women, the term "bystander" refers to the largest group of people involved in violent, oppressive, and insensitive acts. In general, bystanders greatly outnumber both the perpetrators and victims of those acts, and have a range of involvement. Some bystanders know that a specific situation is happening or will happen, some see the act in progress, and some know that an act has happened. Whatever their role, bystanders have the power to stop insensitivity and oppression from occurring and to get help for those who are affected.

At some point in our lives, we all have been bystanders, and we will most likely encounter situations where we are bystanders in the future. The choice, then, becomes whether to be active bystanders who speak up and act or passive bystanders who say and do nothing.

In any situation, there are a range of appropriate actions. We invite you to begin building skills to strengthen your resolve to be an active bystander.

We are not advocating that you risk your own safety in order to be an active bystander. But we do believe that the creation of an inclusive campus requires the involvement of all members of the community.