BeVocal prepares students as active bystanders

Miguel Robles

Faculty and staff began BeVocal as an initiative to promote bystander intervention and pushed it forward by working with different groups and departments across campus.

The facilitators chose to begin a student organization to give more of voice to individuals who are directly affected by the matters they discussed. BeVocal prepares students to safely intervene as a bystander in difficult situations they may encounter on campus such as substance abuse, interpersonal violence
and discrimination. 

BeVocal Activities Coordinator Chloe Gomez said it is useful to have the type of bystander training the organization provides. 

“Growing up, my mom would always tell me that ‘Evil flourishes where good men do nothing,’ so I was always raised to
believe that silence is just as much as a culprit of bad things happening in the world,” said Gomez, a
linguistics junior.

Trainer and facilitator Kundanika Lakkadi said she wants to empower students to speak up and possibly prevent something bad from happening.

“I know there’s always a stigma where students don’t want to get involved from fear of being shown in the wrong light by their peers,” said Lakkadi, a biochemistry junior. “We want to get rid of those barriers.”

During their meeting on Tuesday, the group focused on how to react in situations involving substance abuse. Biochemistry junior Kirubel Belay, chair of leadership and recruitment, led the meeting and discussed how students are prone to substance abuse because of peer pressure, stress and mental health. He continued by describing different ways in which someone can avoid substance abuse themselves and keep it from happening to others.

Co-coordinator Eby Lukose said substance abuse has serious detrimental effects on college campuses.

“Substance abuse is so prevalent and widespread throughout college campuses,” said Lukose, a civil engineering junior. “You’re here to learn, you’re here to grow, and you shouldn’t have to lose your time or your life due to situations that sometimes aren’t necessarily your fault.”

BeVocal will meet bi-weekly to cover a wide variety of “sensitive” topics that could require bystander intervention. In addition, they will also provide facilitator trainings that will help students become more equipped in becoming active bystanders. The next meeting will take place Oct. 4 and will cover how to reduce confrontations caused by racism.