An Interview with Dustin Struble from KU on his Proven Bystander Programming Methods for Success
By Meghan Stewart, Prevention Innovations Research Center Communications Intern
Bringing in the Bystander® (BITB) is a comprehensive bystander intervention training program created by researchers and practitioners at Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire and is used to teach students on college campuses across the globe how to be active bystanders in situations where a sexual assault may occur. PIRC has evaluated the effectiveness of BITB with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Justice. BITB is also constantly being improved using feedback PIRC receives from facilitator trainings. During these “train-the-trainer” programs, we consistently get questions about facilitator retention. Specifically, how can campuses ensure that they have enough trained, competent, and committed facilitators to roll out Bringing in the Bystander to thousands of students each year?
To answer these questions, I turned to Dustin Struble, the Prevention Educator at the University of Kansas. Dustin has been with the Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center at KU since 2016 and is responsible for bystander intervention training and men’s engagement programming on campus. BITB has been part of KU’s sexual assault prevention education since 2015 and is delivered in the 90-minute version as a requirement for all freshmen students. I asked Dustin how he structures his program to maintain a core group of facilitators. Dustin explained that building up a comprehensive sexual assault prevention program can be challenging, and training enough trainers to facilitate BITB across a campus of nearly 30,000 students is a continual process. The process for recruiting and preparing new facilitators is completed in three phases: recruitment, recognition, and supervision.
Step 1: Recruitment
Dustin’s process for finding friendly, motivated, and committed facilitators begins with a list. This list represents audiences who would not only benefit from BITB training, but who also may be inclined to deliver the training themselves, such as faculty from Women’s Studies or the Social Work departments. He meets with the deans of various departments to make connections across campus in order to build a long-term programming plan. Dustin’s initial list was about 120 names long with the majority of individuals being full-time staff and faculty, accompanied by a few graduate students. After finalizing the list, he invited each person to attend the first “train-the-trainers” BITB program. He told me that 40 people attended the first training. Now, about two years later, he has 154 facilitators on KU’s campus and about 45 of them regularly train students.
Step 2: Recognition
Once he found a core group of individuals to roll out the training, Dustin focused on team building with the facilitators to create a group synergy. He described communication as one of the most important aspects to ensure that you have a solid group of facilitators. Communication with his team includes an “on-call system” where there is always one facilitator ready to step in if the assigned facilitator is no longer able to deliver the training. Dustin also delivers monthly updates to his team, including recognition of milestones such as the “Five-Timers Club.” Facilitators that have delivered 5 or more trainings receive a certificate of achievement and a gift card as a way of saying “thank you” for their service and commitment. Five-Timers gift cards are often for campus dining establishments, including coffee shops and university dining halls, as they are beneficial to all facilitators regardless of where they work on campus.
Step 3: Supervision
Dustin emphasizes self-care to ensure that facilitators are able to deliver the best possible BITB trainings, which can address heavy and emotional topics. He tracks how many trainings each facilitator has done so he can check in with those who are taking on a lot, or less than usual. He also often encourages his facilitators to check in with him to address any issues or questions. He believes it’s important to remember that the facilitators are doing this work because they care, and therefore it is important they receive the same attention and recognition back.
Capacity Building & Sustainability
Although Dustin has been working with BITB for a while and has a good process that works for him and his campus, he acknowledges that it takes a lot of work to get comfortable with the training. One of the challenges with having a team of 154 facilitators on campus is that each facilitator possesses a different working knowledge of bystander intervention. Some have been doing this work for a long time and are familiar with the conversation, while others are new to the field and need time to build up their confidence with the program.
This is where communication between the facilitators becomes important. Regular communication among facilitators creates a space for building off each other’s experiences and learning from one another. Dustin noted that it is important to create a space where questions are expected and appreciated. He takes time to make sure his facilitators know that they are not experts, nor are they expected to be. He encourages his team to “trust the curriculum” and know that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Fixes are always possible.
Dustin says he constantly makes new connections on campus with faculty, staff, and students to ensure he has the best team to deliver BITB. He continues to meet with different departments to help determine where bystander intervention training may be helpful in their existing curriculums. Dustin wants to see bystander intervention become the norm on his campus and build support for students, faculty, staff, and the rest of the KU community.
For those currently using Bringing in the Bystander, we ask you: as part of your campus sexual and relationship violence prevention work, how do you ensure you always have a team of motivated and committed facilitators? Comment below with any advice or thoughts! Please reach out to Jennifer Scrafford, PIRC’s Commercialized Product and Training Coordinator, at Jennifer.Scrafford@unh.edu, for more information on BITB.
Dustin Struble, Prevention Educator
Dustin serves as a Program Educator for the Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center. In this role, Dustin is responsible for bystander intervention and men’s engagement programming. He came to KU in the fall of 2012, working in the Student Involvement and Leadership Center for four years. Prior to KU, Dustin earned his Master of Education (MEd) in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina. Originally from Durham, California, Dustin earned his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Political Science from California State University-Chico. Dustin is currently working on his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Higher Education Administration. In his free time, Dustin serves as a Victim/Survivor Advocate for the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center.
Meghan Stewart, PIRC Communications Intern
Meghan is currently working as a Communications Intern for Prevention Innovations Research Center. She is a senior at the University of New Hampshire studying Sociology & Psychology and is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the nation’s largest community-service based campus organization. Before coming to PIRC, she worked as an Outreach and Prevention Education Intern for Independence House, a domestic violence and sexual assault counseling center serving Cape Cod. She is passionate about raising awareness for sexualized violence and will continue to fight for survivors.