Shift towards bystander engagement

 
Dear Engaged Bystander, In a recent interview with CALCASA about bystander enagement, I talked about the small ways that we can shift our thinking and the way we do our work. I mentioned a conference safety sheet and how a small change can move us away from “victim blaming” towards a more engaged community responsibility. 
 
Below is the original Safety Sheet from this conference. See if you can guess what changes make sense. 
 
Safety Tips
It is always good practice to follow certain rules for your own personal safety, especially when in an unfamiliar city. Please keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Do not walk alone at night.
  • Remove your name badge when away from the convention sessions or functions.
  • Always keep your personal property firmly in your control.
  • Place any valuable you have with you in the hotel safe when not in use.
  • Always lock and deadbolt your door when you are in your hotel room.
  • Do not say your room number out loud.
  • Do not open your door unless you know who is knocking. Do not admit anyone claiming to work for the hotel unless you see identification and have requested assistance.
  • Exercise common sense at all times. 

 
As I read this list, I can feel the fear factor growing inside. See the changes below that we can so easily make to highlight this shift to bystander and community involvement.   For me, I feel safer if I know that others will look out for me and it encourages me to look out for others too.  (Revisions are marked in bold.) 
 
Safety Tips (REVISED)
It is always good practice to follow certain rules for your own personal safety, especially when in an unfamiliar city. Please keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Do not walk alone at night – ask a friend or anyone at the conference to walk with you if you want to go out. 
  • If you see someone from the convention walking alone, introduce yourself and ask if they want company until you both get to where you need to go. (It is a great way to meet folks too!)
  • Remove your name badge when away from the convention sessions or functions.
  • If you see someone wearing their name badge away from the convention, introduce yourself and warmly suggest they remove their badge for safety reasons. 
  • Always keep your personal property firmly in your control.
  • Place any valuable you have with you in the hotel safe when not in use.
  • Always lock and deadbolt your door when you are in your hotel room.
  • Do not say your room number out loud.
  • Do not open your door unless you know who is knocking. Do not admit anyone claiming to work for the hotel unless you see identification and have requested assistance.
  • If you see something unusual (e.g., bags left, unusual behaviors) please tell the convention coordinators or the hotel about what you have seen. 
  • Exercise common sense at all times. 

In this case, it was Karen Baker, the Director of the NSVRC who spotted this opportunity and I am happy to report that the conference organizers made the change immediately and permanently. 
 
If you are so moved, please comment on what changes you would recommend to this kind of conference safety tip listing.   
 
Warmly
joan

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