Be an Active Bystander

At Ursinus, we empower students to become independent, responsible, and thoughtful leaders. This requires students to become Active Bystanders.

All students are expected to take personal responsibility for their actions while also holding their peers accountable to their actions.  

be the solution Bystander Intervention is a systematic approach to helping someone in need. 

Step 1: Notice/Recognize:

It is critical to first pay attention to what is going on around you and look for warning signs of a problem. 

Step 2: Take Personal Responsibility:

While there are varying levels of responsibility in every situation, we believe that whoever witnesses the warning signs of a problem is personally responsible to intervene.   If you see something, say something!

Step 3: Take Action:

Knowing what to do and what resources are available to help are important to allow a person to accomplish this third step which results in being an Active Bystander. 

BARRIERS: There are many barriers to being an Active Bystander.

Not paying attention, not understanding the warning signs, being too drunk or high to notice what is going on around you, or not realizing the situation is escalating towards becoming a problem are some barriers within the first step of Bystander Intervention.

Thinking someone else will handle it or believing it is not your role or responsibility are common barriers in the second step. 

Not knowing what to do, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of causing a scene, or being embarrassed or alone in your want to help are some common barriers to taking action in the third step. 

The 3 D’s help us find a way AROUND these barriers and provides options for when a specific barrier is in the way.   Direct - Distract - Delegate

Direct: Saying or doing something in the moment to prevent the problem from happening

Depending on the situation, it could be as simple as “Hey, please stop that.” or sometimes using social pressure for good can help: “We all wear our masks around here, please put yours on.” You can also directly intervene with the victim in the situation by checking in: “Are you okay? Do you need help?”



Distract: Diffuse the situation to allow the parties involved to be separated or to interrupt the situation.

If it’s a friend, ask if they want to go get pizza instead, or tell them someone is looking for them in another room, or start a dance party! If it’s a stranger, ask for directions, or compliment them on their outfit, or start a dance party! There are tons of ways to interrupt a situation and it’ll depend on your personality, comfort level, and the specific circumstances. 


Delegate: Get help from someone who is better equipped to handle the situation.

This can be a friend, a roommate, a captain, or student-leader, or even Campus Safety.


The 3-step process and the 3 D’s are helpful for all types of situations. Regardless of the situation, it is important to reflect on the three steps of Bystander Intervention, learn as much as you can about warning signs of a problem (see Recognizing Signs of Distress) and consider ways you might utilize the 3 Ds when you need to be an Active Bystander.