This year, Peer Health Educators and First Responders will be implementing a program called “Green Dot” under the direction of Sexual Assault and Wellness Advocate, Megan Root. The program is a strategy based on the bystander effect, intended to increase violence prevention through peer and community influence.
According to the program description, the concept of a “green dot” is that it represents a moment when someone promotes safety through behavior or interference, where as a “red dot” indicates the presence of violence, whether it be partner violence, sexual violence, or stalking. The strategy is to reduce the amount of “red dots” by increasing “green dots” in order to minimize high-risk situations.
“Last August the state of Maryland and the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) paid for training for Green Dot for colleges, universities, crisis response centers – “It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Root said. “My division and folks on campus were supportive and wanted to bring this program here as well. We didn’t have much time last year to get the groundwork in, so I invested a lot this summer in trying to get that process ready.”
Pre-semester training for Peer Health Educators and First Responders involved a day long six-hour Green Dot training component for those who wanted more training in how to enact the Green Dot theory.
First Responder senior Nick Huber attended this training session, and felt the program had a lot to offer for the campus.
“Green Dot is sort of like an immune system for the campus,” Huber said. “When the body detects a threat, it works to remove it from itself. The Green Dot program is meant to encourage our campus community to look out for itself; if you see someone in trouble – they are passed out in a bush alone, maybe they had too much to drink and are in a situation where they could use a buddy – that is a green dot moment.
Training was mainly learning about how to determine what a “red dot” situation may be, and what you can do to stop them. We talked about why bystanders often stand idle. It can be scary, because people may not be sure what to do, or if something even should be done…You don’t have to be Wolverine or Batman or anything- tear your shirt off and protect the campus. We are trying to get people to look out for everyone the way you would a sibling, best friend, loved one, etc. if they were in that situation.”
Currently, the Green Dot program is in the implementation stage, where the most important thing is to get the word out and build up interest. The next stages will be increasing visibility, offering the day long trainings, and short presentations on the basics of the program.
“It’s very doable”, Root added. “There are going to be people on campus who are going to think, this isn’t going to work, this isn’t my concern. Hopefully we can get enough people that this doesn’t matter, that there’s enough folk who say this is important enough and I care enough about spending my life in a safe place that I’m going to do something and figure out how to recognize risky situations.”
This semester, Root plans to increase visibility through the creation of a Green Dot Tumblr and a Green Dot Facebook, and plans to include a Green Dot Map in the Campus Center.
“One in four women and one in thirty three men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime,” said Root. “That doesn’t include relationship violence, harassment, or stalking. Add those in and we have an epidemic. We’ve got 40,000 people who experience the flu and we vaccinate them all. Well, this is our vaccine.”