Violence occurs on and around campus everyday. Whether it be mental or physical violence, bystanders are often present. According to statistics from the National Center for Education, approximately 90 percent of students in the America do not like to see someone bullied, but less than 20 percent try to stop it. This typically happens from the lack of knowing what to do. “As Americans, in our culture and society a lot of times we’re taught to mind our own business, somebody else will do something about our societal problems. I want to break that cycle and tell people to be that person who stands up,” said Joe Schumacher, MSU alum, educator for VOICE Center and staff advisor for the Not In Our House (NIOH) PSA.
MSU’s VOICE Center and NIOH Task Force are in the midst of creating a new PSA. This year will be their fourth video and will focus around the theme of bystander intervention. “The purpose of this film is to show a solution. We really want to open up that conversation,” advocate for the VOICE Center and chair representative for the task force Kyra Morrissey said. The past three films produced by the NIOH Task Force have themes centered around awareness, education and action.“Most people have been on board with the fact that certain issues need attention and this year’s PSA will show people how to respond. Our organization is unlike any other because it seeks to bring together students and community members that stand against violence. This is an issue we can all get behind,” Schumacher said.
The director, Jack Murrey, is a graduate from the film and photography department at MSU. “I’ve known Jack for a while, we were both students here together so I knew the skillset he had and wanted him on board. We love this school and it sends a cool message when it’s MSU alum giving back. It’s just Bobcats taking care of Bobcats at the end of the day,” Schumacher said. The actors involved are all MSU students volunteering from a diverse range of student organizations such as the athletic department and Greek life community. “There’s about 50 volunteers involved in this year’s film, all the students helping out have a visible presence on our campus and it’s really cool to see who comes out to support,” Morrissey said.
The film itself will be shot in three scenes. Scene one will take place in the MSU football locker room where a teammate witnesses the bullying of another team member. Scene two will be in the Renne Library where the same team member witnesses his buddy catcalling towards a female student. The third and final scene will be set up to resemble a party where a more serious scenario will take place. After filming, the sound will be muted and student advocate for the VOICE center Helena Klein will do a voice-over narration. The scenes are meant to make the viewer feel uncomfortable so the importance of the issues are thoroughly addressed: “If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it probably makes someone else feel uncomfortable as well,” Morrissey said.
Bystander intervention has become an important issue on college campuses because of its potential to bring awareness to both mental and physical violence. “These situations are unfortunate but it’s definitely real, it happens all the time and it’s not cool. People need to step up and be courageous enough to intervene,” one student actor said.The film strongly focuses on the VOICE center’s three main steps towards prevention, which are awareness, education and action. “Interpersonal violence has touched all of our lives, and for that reason we all dedicate special attention and care to our campus community. We want to show newcomers that we welcome everyone but that there’s certain things we won’t permit. We’re stepping in to say these are our values,” Schumacher said. “Bystander intervention stems from education so we’re raising awareness that there’s other moments that if we looked at the language and things we do in our culture that contribute to violence, there may come a day where we won’t have to intervene.”
The film is scheduled to release right in time for sexual assault awareness month in April, all are encouraged to watch. “If we can help at least one person feel more comfortable stepping in we will have reached our goal,” Morrissey said.