Raising the bar for bystander intervention


According to the Putnam County Family Support Services (PCFSS), about 50 percent of women and 20 percent of men will experience some form of sexual violence within their lifetime. Putnam County is attempting to lower those statistics by implementing the Raise the Bar Indiana program in its local businesses.

Raise the Bar Indiana is a statewide campaign that teaches bystander intervention to staff in alcohol serving establishments. Because of a grant received from United Way of Putnam County, PCFSS has been working to train staff in bars and restaurants about sexual assault and bystander intervention.

“It [Raise the Bar] teaches people, when they see something wrong, how to safely and effectively intervene to do something about it [sexual violence]. It also looks at the environment in the establishment to help make that environment as safe as possible,” said Rachel Jern, a prevention specialist at PCFSS.

To celebrate training their respective staffs through Raise the Bar, The Fluttering Duck, Tap House 24, and Wasser Brewing Company are hosting a bar crawl alongside PCFSS on April 25 from 7 to 10 p.m.. The event is for both the DePauw and Greencastle communities in order to inform customers about effective bystander intervention.

Jern believes that hosting a bar crawl will teach members of the community about an important issue. “The Raise the Bar program is about making safer places for people to go out and making the community safer [in regards to sexual violence], so we’re celebrating that by having people visit some of these establishments that are being trained this week,” Jern said.

Additionally, participants in the bar crawl have the ability to obtain a punch card that marks their visits at all the establishments. At the end of the event, people can submit their punch card into a raffle of a total of 100 dollars in gift cards. Individuals can obtain a punch card at any of the three establishments.

“I think the event is important itself because if we get a ton of DePauw students to this, then people will know that this is something that we as a community stand for,” said sophomore Barbara Castellini, vice president of philanthropy for the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega.

Student perception has been positive so far. “I feel like it’s important [the pub crawl]. First of all is recognizing that there is a problem, and I think that’s half the battle a lot of the times,” said senior Maggie Wetzel. “I also think that it’s important to consider that it’s focused on helping women and men feel safe in spaces that they should already feel safe, and I think that’s really important to think about as well.”

In order to build a connection with DePauw University for the Raise the Bar program, PCFSS is partnering with the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega to help promote the bar crawl on campus. The philanthropy of Alpha Chi Omega is domestic violence awareness.

Originally, PCFSS approached DePauw University and the Interfraternity Council about implementing the program for fraternities, but PCFSS was unable to receive official support for the training due to legal reasons.

“I think that Raise the Bar is an important program because it is for bartenders, and bartenders have such an important role in this that I think is kind of missed in a way. I thought that it was kind of cool that someone is trying to capitalize on their power within a situation and that they can prevent sexual assault from occurring,” Castellini said.

Additionally, students believe that the bar crawl will be important for educating the community. “It’s really significant that the event not only partners with the community and the University,”  Wetzel said, “but also is a good starting point to educate people in a really uncomfortable way.”