Teaching students to be leaders

Keith Kaczmarek, Reporter

Becky Bell, the creator and founder of Step Up!, a college leadership program, came to Bakersfield College to preview the program for BC’s athletic program and the Student Government Association.

The program is focused on “people who step up,” a tag line for intervention in problems that affect students.

“No matter the group, bystander intervention applies,” Bell said during the presentation.

The program stresses the importance of student intervening in their fellow student’s issue before they had a chance to spiral out of control, focusing on the leadership role of student athletes on campus.

“[The program] is for everyone,” she said. “Everyone is in those situations.”

Bell travels to at least five campuses a year and spreads the program to other campuses. Otherwise, she is the assistant athletic director in the University of Arizona and has directed the C.A.T.S Life Skills Program since 1997. She is also the author of “If I Had Known What I Know Now.”

The issues that the seminar expected the program to address were alcohol abuse, hazing, depression, discrimination, disordered eating, anger issues, gambling, sexual assault, relationship violence, and academic misconduct.

Ryan Beckwith, BC’s athletic director, expressed his approval of the program.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It becomes part of the culture, and in five years it’s just the way you do things.”

He then spoke about how the program could be valuable for student athletes.

“Not only do I need them to have the GPA and the skills, I need someone who can be a leader right now,” he said. “[Student athletes] are expected to be leaders. People see you and expect you to be the first to respond. Student athletes don’t expect to be the first to respond.

“To teach students to be a leader is one of the first things I’d like to teach them,” he said, noting the value of being a leader to moving onto a four-year athletics program.

At the end of the program, Bell talked about the program’s value outside of its value to students, saying that it provided benefits to a team’s competitive advantage and fundraising activities.

Tawntannisha Thompson, SGA president, said about the program, “[It’s] what you would want someone to

Thompson was honored at the event when she was given a Ben’s Bells Bracelet, a bracelet made by the Ben’s Bells Project. The Project promotes intervention and kindness in neighborhoods by placing bells around the community as a form of community art and has partnered with the Step Up! program.

One of the more memorable moments during the presentation, according to Thompson, was a video that showed a young child whose father staged a series of kidnappings to see if bystanders would intervene. After hours and dozens of people ignoring the fake kidnappings, finally a pair of young men challenged the man.

“What amazed me is the number of people who didn’t act,” said Thompson when she pointed to the clip as a reason to teach students to intervene.