A student rushes to his dorm room and locks the door after another threatening encounter with members of his floor, leaving him feeling alone and intimidated. Suddenly, he hears several violent knocks at the door. The students demand he comes out. He calls his resident assistant for help.
This is not the first time John* has been bullied on his floor. In fact, according to a study conducted by professors at Indiana State University, 15 percent of college students reported being bullied and 22 percent reported being cyber-bullied.
Our campus is not immune to this issue as evident through John’s experiences.
He is not alone.
Another student, Mark*, was verbally bullied in a bathroom. A member of his floor had to break up the incident. The student who stepped in then went to the administration for help in addressing the situation.
We all dealt with bullying in the halls of middle school and high school, but bullying is still present now, even in our early 20s—even at a Christ-centered institution.
So how do we combat this? Here are three simple guidelines.
1. Know your audience—Know that what is seen as friendly teasing to some may be seen as bullying by others. Be aware that different cultures, ideologies and past experiences affect how people interpret what is said or done.
2. Know when to stop—Try to recognize when the situation has crossed a line for the other person. If in doubt, assume it has. Be willing to stop and apologize, even if your intentions were not bad.
3. Know when to step in—If a situation even starts to look suspicious, be willing to take action. As a community, we are called to support and protect others when they are in vulnerable situations.
For those being bullied, know that the moment you feel threatened or intimidated by a situation is the moment it becomes bullying. Do not be ashamed to seek help. Do not back down because someone said you interpreted their words or actions the wrong way. Your interpretation is valid and others need to respect that.
Because of a student’s efforts, Mark was able to escape a dangerous situation. However, not every situation ends that way. A little effort can go a long way with bullying and any effort is worth it to create a safe, welcoming community.
*Names in the story were changed to protect the identity of students involved.
The Huntingtonian editorial is written by the editorial staff: Jared Huhta, Laura Good, Alex Hoffman, Brooks Hooley, Michelle Embree, Jaime Hillegonds and Breanna Amico. It reflects the viewpoint of the editors only. Comment on it at www.huntingtonian.com.