UM-Flint DPS Offers Training to Enhance Inclusive Community

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Social Work lecturer Todd Womack and DPS Chief Ray Hall engaged in a campus discussion on race.

As a bystander, have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation where you wanted to help someone experiencing some level of verbal or physical abuse, but you didn't know the best way to do that?

Beginning in March, the University of Michigan-Flint Department of Public Safety will hold a helpful training series to teach students, faculty, and staff effective strategies they can use to actively de-escalate verbal and physical aggressive behavior that they may witness in their communities or on campus.

The officer-led trainings are designed to enhance a diverse and inclusive community both on and off campus so that, rather than walking by or ignoring aggressive situations between individuals, a bystander feels equipped to intervene if necessary.

Participants talked about the realities involved with choosing to stand up for their beliefs.

"Instead of being a bystander to these situations that may make us uncomfortable, we will be training people to be 'upstanders' by showing them proven tools to de-escalate an unsafe situation," said UM-Flint DPS Chief Ray Hall during a recent campus "Courageous Conversation" discussion with staff and students.

During the Courageous Conversation, approximately 30 UM-Flint students and staff met at the Intercultural Center lounge to open up about their experiences and questions related to hate speech and discrimination. University instructors Traci Currie, Todd Womack, and Heather Laube facilitated the talk with a social work class, student leaders, and international students.

Participants talked about the challenges of living with parents and close family members who hold racist beliefs. They opened up about the difficulty of talking about race issues with people who have vastly different opinions, and how these conversations, or lack of communication, affect their relationships and confidence level while trying to express their views in non-confrontational ways.

UM-Flint Social Work EHS Writing Coordinator Vanessa Marr, PhD; Sociology associate professor Heather Laube, PhD; and Communications collegiate lecturer Traci Currie, PhD

Offered in partnership through DPS officers and the UM-Flint Social Work Department, the de-escalation training series is a great tool for those who want to be able to intervene effectively in aggressive situations, to better understand and respect one another, and to improve relationships on and off campus.

"It's all about relationships," Chief Hall said. "It's hard to be gender-biased, racist, homophobic and so forth when you truly get to know people. As you build those relationships and understanding of others and yourself, it changes the way you communicate, perceive, and interact with others."

Those who register will learn tips to recognize biases and will be able to participate in simulation activities led by specially trained DPS officers who will also demonstrate useful defense tactics.

The DPS de-escalation training series is scheduled from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. March 23 & 30, and April 6 & 13 in the University Center's Michigan Rooms. Individuals who complete all four trainings will receive a DPS certificate and a special pin. To register or for more details, contact UM-Flint DPS at 810-762-3333.

Students discussed the struggles of calling people out when racist comments are made.

More UM-Flint DPS Safety Course Info:

In addition, UM-Flint DPS also offers Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training for women and separate training for men. This program is realistic and offers self-defense tactics and techniques. It is free and open to the public. The next class will be announced soon, and registration is required. Visit the DPS Events Calendar for more info.

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