After the University placed its chapter of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority on a two-year disciplinary suspension for attending a January ski trip that resulted in thousands of dollars in damage, the sorority is launching a bystander intervention program.

The newly implemented Speak Up! Michigan program kicked off Monday evening with a lecture by Mike Dilbeck, who founded Response Ability, a program providing people with the tools to intervene in difficult situations. SDT organized the initiative to promote bystander intervention education on campus.

The audience was mostly composed of students affiliated with Greek life. SDT members made up a majority of the audience.

Michelle Carlson, SDT national president, also attended, and referenced the chapter’s current disciplinary suspension. Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones sanctioned the chapter in February upon the conclusion of the University’s disciplinary proceedings.

“Our women really believe that they did not have the training necessary to step in and make a difference,” Carlson said. “They want to empower other students on this campus to step in and make a difference when situations happen. They were faced with a situation where they felt like they didn’t have the tools yet.”

The University’s statement deemed SDT’s members bystanders during a trip where members of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity committed more than $250,000 in property damage to a Gaylord ski resort.

“Members of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority stood by at Treetops Resort and allowed others to vandalize the facility,” the University’s statement read. “This lack of action is unacceptable.”

The discussion began with the recitation of a 20-line creed, which began and ended with the words, “I am courageous leadership.” Courageous leadership was defined by Dilbeck as going beyond fear and standing up, stepping in and speaking out against the injustice present on campus and in the everyday lives of people everywhere.

Dilbeck also shared a personal story of his experience founding the Sigma Nu fraternity at Texas Christian University, a chapter that was ultimately shut down in 2002. During his speech, Dilbeck discussed recalled his own failure to intervene in several situations.

“I am deeply ashamed for what I didn’t do,” he said.

LSA sophomore Allie Lisner, a member of the SDT executive board, said SDT members have met with the Dean of Students to discuss implementing a bystander intervention program on campus. She said the sorority hopes to provide programs and spark conversation about speaking up in difficult situations.

“There’s nothing for if you’re in a disaster or this crises when someone is damaging something, like how could you intervene?” Lisner said. “People should learn this when they come to Michigan or when they join Greek life or any other organization rather than after they’ve already made the mistake of not being the best bystander they could have been.”

Dilbeck invited students to anonymously text his iPod on stage with their own stories about difficult situations they had been in. He read a few of the stories submitted by students from other campuses as well, some of which addressed hazing and discrimination.

Lisner said SDT is looking to include the entire campus community in the Speak Up! Michigan program and not just members of Greek life.

“Bystander intervention is important in any setting across this country,” Delbick said. “We have such an opportunity to empower the people who are not standing up to the wrong of the world.”

LSA freshman Maggie Brockmeyer-Bernard commented on the importance of continuing education on the topic.

“We are constantly put in situations where it is useful so it’s really good to be educated on this type of thing.”

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