Comet Voice

The Bystander Intervention Initiative of The University of Texas at Dallas

All members of our University community share in a collective responsibility to make our campus peers feel welcome, safe and comfortable. The goal of Comet Voice, the bystander intervention initiative of UT Dallas, is to empower students with the confidence and skills to stand up and step in when needed.

What is Bystander Intervention?

Bystander intervention means recognizing a potentially harmful situation and choosing to respond in a way that could positively influence the outcome.

Steps to Intervention

  1. Recognize the potential harm
  2. Choose to respond
  3. Take action

Barriers to Intervention

Bystander effect is a social phenomenon where a large group of individuals witnessing a violent act are less likely to intervene. Other barriers include:

  • Diffusion of responsibility: “I’m sure someone else will do something, so I don’t need to.”
  • Displacement of responsibility: “I’m not responsible, it’s someone else’s problem.”
  • Pluralistic ignorance: “No one else thinks this is a problem, so it’s not a big deal.”
  • Fear of retaliation:  “I’m afraid of what will happen to me if I do anything.”
  • Fear of negative attention:  “I’ll be embarrassed if I do anything.”

What is a Harmful Situation?

A harmful situation is anything that constitutes a negative physical, mental, social or emotional response affecting a community, a group of individuals or a single person.

Examples of Harmful Situations

  • Sexual assault
  • Dating/relationship violence
  • High-risk drinking
  • Drug use/abuse
  • Hazing
  • Physical fights
  • Mental health concerns
  • Suicidal threats
  • Stalking
  • Hate speech
  • Harassment
  • Bias incidents

Forms of Intervention

Direct action is an approach to intervening that requires articulation or expression of concern with the situation.

  • Ask questions/get clarity.
  • Create a distraction.
  • Talk/address directly.

Indirect action, also known as a ‘detour’ approach, involves less visible forms of intervening.

  • Get other people involved.
  • Call 911 or the UTD Police (972-883-2222).
  • Report behaviors to the Behavior Assessment and Intervention Team (BAIT).
  • Report on-campus crimes or crimes involving/among UT Dallas students that happened off-campus to Campus Security Authorities (CSAs).
  • Call attention to the situation to those around you who may be able to help.

Resources for Bystander Intervention

Student Wellness Center

The Student Wellness Center encourages Comets to practice bystander intervention in situations such as sexual assault prevention, high-risk drinking, suicide prevention and hazing prevention.

Wellness Leader Program

In an effort to increase the number of students that have the knowledge and skills to step in and prevent harmful acts from occurring, Wellness Leaders are trained in bystander intervention and other health-related topics.

Wellness Leader training typically occurs during the fall and spring semesters.  If you are interested in becoming a Wellness Leader, contact the Student Wellness Center at 972-883-4275 or stop by SSB 4.500 in the Student Services Building.

Bystander Intervention Training

Contact Kacey Sebeniecher to request bystander intervention training for you or your student organization.

Bystander Intervention Award

Do you know a student, department, staff/faculty member or student organization that has demonstrated an outstanding example of bystander intervention? Nominate them for an award in bystander intervention.

Comet Voice at UT Dallas