A photo of the outside of the center for well being building that houses student health services.

Gamecocks stand up for each other

Bystander intervention efforts encourage students to stand up when something isn't right

UofSC’s bystander intervention efforts have undergone a bit of a makeover this year. The program, formerly known as Stand Up Carolina, has been completely revamped and is now referred to as Gamecocks Stand Up.

When discussing the evolution of the university’s bystander intervention efforts, Dianna Colvin, the program director for Healthy Carolina initiatives, says “Stand Up Carolina was more of a command, whereas Gamecocks Stand Up represents a really inclusive identity statement. It says that if I’m a Gamecock, then I stand up for people.”

Colvin is working with students to get feedback about what they need when it comes to stepping in when they see something that isn’t right.

Students often ask themselves “How do I become a bystander for things that are really uncomfortable and could potentially come back on me? Is it going to be awkward? Am I going to have to deal with some negative consequences from being an active bystander? All of those things play a role in whether or not people decide to act,” says Colvin.

“In this campaign, we break down the steps for bystander intervention into recognize, decide and stand up. That decide piece is the most important. It’s that decisional balance of ‘ok I think this is a problem, but is it my business? Am I the person that needs to help? How should I do this?’ ” 

The following is an example scenario provided by Student Health Services on ways to implement the recognize, decide, stand up strategy for bystander intervention for academic stress.

The situation

“My roommate has had a really overwhelming semester and now I barely see them study or do work for their classes.” What’s next? 

Recognize harm

Stress and burnout can look like:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heartburn or nausea
  • Loss of motivation
  • Reduced productivity
  • Detachment or isolation

Almost one-third of students report that stress negatively affects their ability to succeed in the classroom.

Decide to intervene 

Stress is a normal part of the college experience. While there are healthy ways to manage stress, pay attention to any drastic changes to mood or behavior. 

Chronic stress can also lead to burnout. Burnout does not just go away, it requires intentional changes to the way you manage the challenges and responsibilities of being a college student.

Step in or speak up 

Support others by talking in private, listening to and validating how they are doing. Always ask permission before giving advice. 

Connect them with wellness coaching for stress management at Student Health Services or with the time management resources at the Student Success Center.

Encourage them to practice regular self-care. Let them know there is free online support through the TAO app. 

For more examples on ways to step in or speak up, explore the hashtag #gamecocksstandup on Instagram and Twitter. These posts cover what to do if you witness things like racism, addiction, stalking, hazing and so much more. 

If there’s a topic that you would like to see covered, let Student Health Services know by tweeting @UofSC_SHS with your suggestions.

Every situation is different, so if you’re not sure what is the best way to intervene or if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, Student Health Services provides consultations for anyone who needs help. You can also call Student Health Services Counseling at 803-777-5223 if you're concerned about a UofSC student. They can help you determine what to do and how to help the student.

Students have the opportunity to be ambassadors for bystander intervention by becoming Gamecocks Stand Up ambassadors. These ambassadors facilitate conversations and use their influence to shift the culture at Carolina and promote the common values of our community by living the Carolinian Creed on a daily basis.  

If you’re interested in becoming a Gamecocks Stand Up ambassador or would just like to learn more about being an active bystander, attend a Gamecocks Stand Up ambassador training session. The next session will be Feb. 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Center for Health and Well-Being in Room 114. You can register on the Student Health Services Website.

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