We teach our kids that if they see someone being bullied, their job is to walk up to the victim, stand next to them and put an arm around their shoulder. They can say, "I'll help you." Letting the victim know they are not alone is a big step - probably, the most important step - towards resolving the issue.
I would not have expected to see myself do that at a tertiary education institution, but today I did just that. I watched a tutor say not-so-nice things to a student, and then leave the room. Everyone was looking around, with a kind of a WTF!? expression on their face.
I picked up my things, walked up to the student and asked if they'd want me to come along to the programme manager's office to back up the story. The student said yes, please. I gave the student a hug and off we went.
And now I've just spent 15 minutes in the office, mostly, just letting the student tell their story, backing it up on my end - yes, I saw it, too - and showing my support by just being there. I think it was important to the student to know, they were not alone.
And now I am back at home, about to start working on another assignment, and my heart is beating because I am thinking, I have no idea where this is heading.
I know the students need their voices heard. On the other hand, it's also pretty obvious that the tutors need support - above all, they need support! - but I am not convinced that the department is going to provide that. I am almost seeing the replica of 2017 happen all over again. Last year, so much pressure was put on teaching staff that, in quick succession, they left. I do not want to spend another term without tutors again.
But on the other hand, I do not want to see a tutor treat a student like that and just do... nothing. So I pick up my stuff and go up to the student and say, "I'll come with you," because among a variety of difficult choices with no perfect solutions, I need to make mine.