STEP UP! for Bystander Intervention Education

STEP UP! empowers the campus community to foster a culture of awareness, intervention, and inclusion in all our interactions in person, on social media, and virtually.

STEP UP! helps students recognize problematic events and increases their motivation, skills, and confidence when responding to problems or concerns.

Upstanders are everywhere, stepping up where it matters the most! Whether it's holding a door for someone, helping your neighbor carry their groceries, returning a wallet, or helping a friend get home safely from a party, you can STEP UP! too.
If you see an Upstander helping others, nominate them below. They will be featured on our website and can be eligible to win a prize.

See how others have stepped up 

Nominate an Upstander

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Evaluation Survey Information


STEP UP! is now an initiative of the JED Health and Well-Being Campus Committee and focuses on training efforts, marketing of STEP UP! events, and updating current and creating new program curriculum. If you are interested in joining, or have any questions, please email

About the program

Did you know?

  • 92% of S&T students report they would intervene in a situation where someone's health or safety is in jeopardy. (MACHB 2021, n=367)
  • Over 9,700 members of the S&T community have received STEP UP! training (as of November 2023)
  • In the fall 2023 semester, over 1300 students attended STEP UP! trainings
  • Across all presentations, 4/5 students left feeling confident in their ability to recognize and intervene in a potentially problematic situation
  • 9/10 students would recommend STEP UP! training to a friend or peer
  • Over 20 organizations are involved in the STEP UP! Certification Program (as of November 2023)

How to STEP UP!

Below are the steps to STEP UP! as well as some scenarios to see the steps play out. To receive more in depth STEP UP! training one-on-one with Student Well-Being staff, visit our consultations page. To request a STEP UP! presentation for your group, organization, or department, visit our presentations page.


Noticing an event happening is the first step in intervening appropriately in a situation. While this sounds simple, and is often times subconscious, we need to be aware of our surroundings to be able to notice a problematic event. We often use our all five of our senses to notice an event, most obviously our vision and hearing. 

This step is about noticing an event happening and deciding quickly whether or not it's a problem, or a situation where some form of intervention is necessary. While this step can be trickier as we often don't have all the details of a situation, it's important to err on the side of caution and interpret it as a problem. This is especially crucial if you believe someone's physical well-being is at risk.

Bystander Intervention is based off of the idea of the "bystander effect", a proven theory in which people are less likely to help in a situation if other people, especially strangers, are present. This is often because of diffusion of responsibility, or feeling like other people will help or are more equipped to help, so we choose to do nothing. Bystander Intervention training emphasizes that it's vital we assume personal responsibility in a situation so a harmful situation doesn't escalate.

Knowing how to intervene appropriately in a situation is vital to the intervention's success. There are four strategies that Bystander Intervention teaches:

  • Direct: This is directly intervening in a situation as it is happening and is often times calling out the perpetrator(s) (person causing the problem) for their problematic behavior, without being aggressive or making the situation worse. This style is straight-forward, blunt, and quick to the point. This is an essential style for situations that are urgent and threatening to physical safety that need to be remedied before further damage occurs, such as someone about to injure themselves, a fight escalating to physical violence, or sexual assault. Please note that we never want you to risk your own physical safety.
  • Distract: This is directly intervening in a situation as it is happening, but is attempting to distract those involved in the situation instead of directly calling out the behavior. This can look like asking the perpetrator(s) or victim(s) to leave the situation with you ("Oh hi, I've been looking for you! Let's go get a coffee"), or to otherwise distract from the situation at hand.
  • Delay: This is waiting until after a situation is over and then approaching the perpetrator(s) to call out their behavior, or approaching the victim(s) to make sure they are okay or need anything. Please note that this style is NOT appropriate for situations that are urgent or threatening to physical safety, as waiting to help could allow a harmful situation to occur.
  • Delegate: This is taking the responsibility to find someone who can intervene or help a situation if you feel you are unable to. This can look like getting someone's friends for them, calling 911/police, or getting a faculty or staff member to intervene. Delegating can happen during a situation or afterward, but it is essential that you still maintain personal responsibility and follow through with the situation after delegating. In an urgent situation, delegating is only appropriate when that delegation can happen quickly/immediately.

Now that you know how to STEP UP!, it's time to intervene in a problematic situation. Intervening appropriately is a key part in making sure problems are resolved quickly and effectively, which is the goal for any situation. To see the steps implemented all the way through, see below for some scenarios. 

Please note that these scenarios are made up and written by Student Well-Being staff. These are just examples of how you can intervene in a given situation- every situation is different and there is no single, perfect way to intervene.

1. Offensive Comments: You are walking across campus and hear a white male student make a racist and crude comment to a female student of color (notice the event). You stop to watch the situation and believe the male student is being offensive (interpret it as a problem). The female student stands her ground and walks away, but you want to make sure she's okay (assume personal responsibility). You run up to her and tell her you saw the situation and ask if she's okay and needs anything (know how to help; delay strategy). You tell her you are willing to make a report with her if she wants. She says she doesn't want to right now, but appreciates you checking in and will reach out if she decides she wants to.


2. Attempted Sexual Assault: You are off-campus at a party and notice a student (student 1) trying to lead another student (student 2) upstairs to a bedroom (notice the event). You see that student 2 is very obviously intoxicated and is unable in their current state to give consent for any sexual activity (interpret it as a problem). You also know that student 2 doesn't live at this residence. As this is an immediate concern for student 2's physical safety, you promptly take action (assume personal responsibility). You go up to student 1 and tell them that student 2 is too intoxicated to consent, and you will be taking them somewhere safer (know how to help; direct strategy). Despite student 1's oppositions, you and student 2 walk away together and you ask them if you can call their friends or drive them home.


3. Physical Altercation: You are walking to your apartment and see two of your classmates yelling at each other (notice the event). You believe it is escalating to a physical altercation based on how they are acting and decide that this is a problem with an immediate threat to their physical safety (interpret it as a problem). You choose to intervene as quickly as possible before the situation gets worse (assuming personal responsibility). You yell to the two fighting that if they don't stop, you are going to call the University Police to deescalate (know how to help; direct strategy). They ignore you, and since you do not want to put yourself in danger, you decide to call University Police Department to see if they can come deescalate the situation (know how to help; delegate strategy). You also text one of the classmates friends and let them know as they would be better able to check in with them later on (know how to help; delegate strategy). University Police arrive just a minute later as the fight starts to get physical and they deescalate it. Neither student gets into trouble, and instead deals with the situation without violence. While you were worried that calling UPD would get the students into permanent trouble, you are glad you called before anyone hurt themselves.


4. Mental Well-Being: You notice someone on your dorm floor isn't coming to the dining hall for dinner like they usually do, and you haven't seen them leave their room for a day or two (notice the event). You know they have struggled with their mental health in the past and are worried for their well-being (interpret the event as a problem). Since you know that their roommate doesn't typically stay in the dorm, you decide to intervene (assume personal responsibility). You knock on their door and ask if they want to get a coffee with you since you wanted to tell them about a shared interest (know how to help; distract strategy). They tell you to go away, and that they want to be left alone. You still are worried about their well-being, so you alert your RA (know how to help; delegate strategy) so they can intervene. The RA talks to them and provides resources, and walks them to Student Well-Being for counseling services. You let the RA know that you are available to help and can be a resource for the student if they want someone to talk to (continuing to assume personal responsibility).