By Jeff Murphy, September 21, 2015
WARRENSBURG, MO – People may be seeing more green around the University of Central
Missouri in the coming months. UCM is launching the national Green Dot Etc. model
on campus, part of a strategy that relies on the power of cultural and peer influences
to promote a bystander approach to prevent power-based personal violence.
The public launch includes a presentation by Green Dot founder Dorothy Edwards at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, in Hendricks Hall. Her keynote presentation is free and open to the public, and is one of several activities that are being coordinated by the Office of Violence and Substance Abuse Prevention (VSAP) Sept. 24 through Oct. 3 to announce UCM’s adoption of this strategic approach. Campus members can learn more about this new initiative through their participation in opportunities such as the keynote pre-party, trivia contests, and other special activities found at ucmo.edu/greendot.
Green Dot targets everyone in the community as agents of change regarding prevention of violent acts such as sexual assault, relationship violence, domestic violence, and stalking. UCM has been building up to this special program’s launch and campus-wide implementation for the past 10 months.
According to Ashley Cason, Green Dot specialist in VSAP, a green dot is any behavior, choice, word or attitude that promotes safety for everyone and communicates intolerance against power-based personal violence. In understanding how this strategy works, Cason suggests people visualize a map of the community with red dots representing individual cases where violent acts occurred. Now, imagine the same map, but with a green dot in the middle, which she describes as “a moment in time, a single choice, where somebody uses their actions, words, or behaviors to prevent violence from occurring or negate violence as it occurs.”
Calling 9-1-1, pulling a friend out of a high –risk situation, a person displaying an awareness poster in their room, posting a Facebook message against violence, providing money to a service provider, are all examples of individual choices people make at any given moment to create a safer world. Envisioning a community map saturated with green dots, Cason and her colleagues hope to accomplish social change through informational programs and opportunities such as bystander intervention training, made possible by a team effort.
The first phase of the program began with Cason and 14 other individuals, including faculty, staff and administrators, attending a four-day Green Dot training institute. Since then, they have spent months providing bystander intervention training to various offices and professional groups on campus, and the next phase is to introduce the program to students.
“We’ll continue holding bystander intervention training until we reach what we call ‘critical mass,’ which is typically 10 to 15 percent of the student population. Research indicates that’s the number you need in order to create social change in your community,” Cason said.
Once critical mass has been achieved, the next phase will be sustainability. This will consist of overviews of the Green Dot program presented to new campus members, as well as bystander intervention training for people who request it. This includes faculty members who want someone to make a Green Dot presentation to their class, as well as university offices.
Cason said going into the launch significant progress has already been made since January to reach out to members of the campus and inform them of the program. About 750 people – the majority are faculty and staff members - have been introduced to Green Dot at UCM through some form of training or presentation. Students employees and staff in the Student Housing area are among those who have received training.
Amy Kiger, director of VSAP, said members of the campus community are enthusiastic about the program. Green Dot is actually being launched months ahead of the original plan for February 2016.
“What is really exciting is that we’re finding the university was ready to be engaged in these issues. There are so many people who want to make a difference and Green Dot gives us the language and the tools to be able to act,” Kiger said. She added that Green Dot is just one part of a comprehensive violence prevention approach at UCM.
“What makes this program different from other traditional gender violence programs is that it is focused on the majority of the population,” Kiger noted. “Thankfully, most people are not going to be victims or perpetrators, but the majority of individuals will at some point in their lives encounter some form of personal violence. So we are trying to empower those people to be able to change the culture.”
Faculty and staff members at UCM who have participated in Green Dot programs understand its value to the campus. As Dennis Docheff, interim chair of the Department of Nutrition and Kinesiology, noted, "Anytime a university can do anything to enhance the level of safety and encourage people to take care of one another, it is a worthwhile venture. As a faculty member, I feel good knowing that the institution cares about its students as individuals; it also pleases me to think that students are looking out for each other. A program like Green Dot fosters both of these to occur."
Individuals who want to know more about Green Dot are encouraged to contact Cason at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kiger at email@example.com. They can also visit the Green Dot website ucmo.edu/greendot.com.
The Green Dot launch week is supported by Cooperative Agreement #UF2 CE002427-02, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Contract #AOC15380142. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. This project is 85%funded with federal money and 15%funded with nongovernmental sources.