On Tuesday, students and educators from Bridgewater State University (BSU) came together and served a major role in the production of an anti-bullying rally, Stand Up to Bullying, where more than 3,500 middle school and high school students from throughout the Commonwealth attended at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.
Educators involved with the campus-based Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), including professor Meghan McCoy and Dr. Elizabeth Englander, coordinated an opportunity for both BSU undergraduate and graduate students to volunteer and become involved with the assembly.
McCoy, who is a psychology professor at BSU as well as the MARC’s program coordinator, lead the on-stage discussion, in which she asked students from different middle and high schools about their thoughts on bullying. Students in the audience were prompted to think about open-ended questions, such as what is the difference between the concept of drama and bullying.
Motivational speaker and author, Lizzie Velásquez, shared her story of once being bullied about her physical features that are affected by a very rare syndrome.
She shared stories regarding her strength and perseverance and also offered advice as to how she responded to the emotional distress bullying had caused.
“If you fight back with your accomplishments, you will win everytime,” Velásquez said.
Later on at the event, Bridgewater State students and MARC educators facilitated an action caucus. During this time, students were selected from middle schools and high schools and came together to strategize effective measures that can be taken on their behalf in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of bullying in their particular school.
The Stand Up to Bullying rally also provided BSU students, who are also aspiring teachers, with an opportunity to exercise professional networking skills amongst other key speakers.
In addition, BSU students witnessed personal stories of bullying shared by younger students throughout the state, providing them with insight regarding many challenges that coincide with the responsibilities of an educator.
Tim Sullivan, vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, stated he was honored by the presence of everyone’s efforts to attend the event. He noted, “we are all here to set a new standard of respect and acceptance in our schools,” and reminded the audience “the right thing is to stand up to bullying in all of it’s forms.”
Christina Fazio is a Comment staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.