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Campus Behavior

person walking in amphitheater on fallen leaves

When on campus, you may come across community members who aren’t taking expectations or precautions seriously and be tempted to call them on it. These are some tips on how to make that conversation productive.

Bystander Intervention

Addressing problematic behavior is often referred to as bystander intervention. Bystander intervention involves developing the awareness, skills, and courage needed to intervene in a situation when another individual needs help or is creating an unsafe environment. Bystander intervention allows individuals to send powerful messages about what is acceptable and expected behavior in our community.

“I statement”

An “I Statement” is an assertion about the feelings, beliefs, or values, of the person speaking, and can be  contrasted with a "you-statement", which often begins with the word "you" and focuses on the person spoken to. I-messages are often used with the intent to be assertive without putting the listener on the defensive by avoiding accusations. They are also used to take ownership for one's feelings rather than implying that they are caused by another person. 

Parts of an “I statement” 

"I statements" are fairly straightforward. You state how you are feeling, what caused the feeling, and what could happen to alleviate the feeling. Let’s look at a few examples.

I statement/You statement Examples 

  • “You need to wear a mask, it is against the rules to be in the hall without one!”
  • Versus: “I feel unsafe when you aren’t wearing a mask in the common areas, and I would appreciate it if you could put one on."

 “I statement” dissected 

  • You state how you are feeling – “I feel unsafe”
  • What caused the feeling – “when you aren’t wearing a mask in the common areas”
  • What could happen to alleviate the feeling – “I would appreciate it if you could put one on.”

More “I statement”/”You statement” Examples 

  • “You are way too close to me and need to social distance!”
  •  “I think it is important for us to observe social distancing and would appreciate it if you could step back a few feet.”

More “I statement”/”You statement” Examples 

  • “There are already 10 people in here and you need to get out.” 
  • “I’m really concerned about an outbreak on campus and would like to make sure we are paying attention to room capacity. There are already 10 people in this space.”

Hopefully you can see how “You statements” could make someone feel defensive, and potentially escalate your conversation into a conflict. You should not feel required to address problematic behavior if it makes you feel uncomfortable. You could talk to your RA, friends, faculty members, or administrators.