New Mentorship Program Educates Lowers on Violence Prevention

Members of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) training program at Northeastern University have begun the process of educating 54 Lower student volunteers about how to be active bystanders. They examined topics such as abuse, sexual violence and bullying. The seminars, the first of which occurred last Saturday, will continue throughout the Fall and Winter Terms.

During these seminars, mentors from the MVP program will lead the students through possible dangerous scenarios, such as underage drinking, and offer some ways to deal with each one. These seminars will be hosted in two separate groups during Saturday mornings. After completing MVP, participating Lowers will serve as representatives of the program, passing their knowledge onto their peers.

A participant in the program, Sparky Yoo ’18 said, “I think it is really cool that after this program, we will become mentors for students [by teaching them] more about the causes and how we should react to violence or abuse when we see it happen.”

Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students, Tracy Ainsworth, last year’s Brace Center Director, and Leon Modeste, Athletic Director, pioneered the program’s installation with the goal of educating volunteer Lowers on how to respond appropriately to sexual assault.

Modeste said, “Being [an active bystander means] if I see someone doing something wrong, I’m not going to just not engage in it myself. I am going to tell that person to not do that. We want these young men and women to spread the word to their class, to the school, about how you can avoid those kinds of situation where nobody is saying stop.”

Last Saturday marked the first session of the MVP program at Andover. Both early-morning and late-morning groups met for two and a half hours for introductory workshops.

Mekedas Belayneh ’18, a participant in the program, said, “In the last class we played a game to get to know each other called ‘Calling All My Neighbors’. The idea of the game was to say a phrase that someone could relate to, then that person would hook arms with you. This continued until we made a full circle. The point of the game was to really show how we are all connected in some ways and that there are issues that affect all of us.”

According to the Northeastern University MVP website, the program “Motivates athletes and leaders to play a central role in solving problems that historically have been considered women’s issues.”

Lowers were the targeted grade for the program because they are the youngest members of upperclassmen dorms and will remain at Andover for another three years.
Alexandra Macrides ’18, a student participant in the program, said, “I am a new student this year so I am already astounded by the amount of open discussion [on] campus and the mutual respect between peers and faculty here. For me, the MVP program is going to have the biggest impact on my life back at home. I am excited to have all this new knowledge and to be able to go home and be a leader and educator in my other community.”

Last year, the same participants of the MVP program came to campus to host a seminar on being an active bystander for Andover faculty members as well as educators from other schools. Noting the success of the program among the faculty, Modeste, Elliott and Ainsworth worked to have the MVP program open to all students as well.

Thomas MacWilliams ’18 said, “The skills [we learn in this program] are really good tools to have [while] going through life at Andover. Andover isn’t a perfect place and this kind of [abuse] does happen, so it is really about how you react when you are in a situation where you see things that could potentially get worse.”

Modeste said, “We liked the [mentors] and the message, also we like that they’re young people who would relate well to our students. They do the seminar all on their own –we don’t sit there with them. Our kids liked it and the people liked our kids. It’s because [the students] are engaged [that] they all volunteered for the program.”

Planning for this project started last spring and was made possible by an Abbot grant.