By Jeff Murphy, March 2, 2016
WARRENSBURG, MO – Innovative programs such as the Green Dot Gardens, an initiative being developed by the University of Central Missouri community in March, along with ongoing informational sessions for faculty, staff and students, continue to grow knowledge across UCM about the role campus members play in preventing power-based personal violence.
Green Dot, which takes a bystander intervention approach, invites everyone in the community to be agents of change in preventing violent acts such as sexual assault, relationship violence, domestic violence and stalking. After several months of planning and initial staff and volunteer began in 2014, the program was officially launched at UCM in September 2015 under the direction of the Office of Violence and Substance Abuse Prevention (VSAP). From its beginning through January 2017, it will benefit from nearly $156,000 in total grant support from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“There are a lot of people on campus who are making Green Dot successful,” said Amy Kiger, director of VSAP.
She points out that what makes Green Dot different from other traditional gender-violence programs is that it is focused on the majority of the population. “Although most people will not be victims or offenders, they may have an opportunity to intervene to stop someone else from getting hurt,” Kiger said, “and everyone has the opportunity to send the message that violence isn’t tolerated at UCM. Green Dot helps us do that.”
Part of the effort to create change comes from Green Dot’s information programs and innovative approaches to spreading the word about bystander intervention through opportunities such as Green Dot Gardens. Lauri Dusselier, who became assistant director of VSAP in October, serves as the contact person for Green Dot, and will oversee this initiative this spring.
“During the month of March, we’ll have about 30 boxes around campus asking students, faculty and staff, ‘What’s your Green Dot?’ They will write down on a green piece of paper a Green Dot action they have performed. Then we’ll make their messages into paper flowers and during Earth Week (April 18-22) we’ll plant them in Green Dot Gardens on campus.”
Students are invited to provide messages that are both proactive and reactive. A proactive message, for example, could be a student wearing a Green Dot pin and telling others about this bystander intervention program. A reactive message would be any number of activities to intervene in a situation to help prevent violence or diffuse a potentially violent situation. This includes directly intervening such as stepping in to prevent someone from committing a violent act, distracting a potential perpetrator, and delegating someone to assist, such as calling police or asking others for help.
Dusselier said collection boxes for messages to be shared in the Green Dot Gardens will be located in 12 residence halls and 18 offices in academic and administrative buildings. She looks forward to working with the Green Team to implement this initiative and other Green Dot activities at UCM.
“I’m very excited to be leading this effort,” Dusselier said. “We have an excellent Green Dot team that has been very active and productive. We currently have six individuals who facilitate Green Dot overviews and even more people who work behind the scenes. It is a pleasure to work with the committees and promote Green Dot.”
The campus community is encouraged to schedule a Green Dot overview by visiting ucmo.edu/greendot. During these informational sessions, faculty, staff, and student groups will learn more about Green Dot, learn how to intervene, and be inspired to do so, Dusselier noted.
Interested individuals can learn more about Green Dot by contacting Dusselier at 660-543-8015 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will receive assistance with Green Dot activities this spring from Sara VanSteenbergen, a graduate student who works in the VSAP office.
According to Kiger, VSAP also is looking for additional faculty and staff members who would like to serve as volunteer Green Dot facilitators to teach students bystander intervention skills. A Green Dot facilitator interest session is planned for 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, April 5 in Elliott Student Union 233.
Kiger also added that as participants in the nationally recognized Community Culture of Responsible Choices Coalition (CCoRC), her office staff, as well as Jeff Huffman from Military and Veteran Services, will be sharing their experiences with the Green Dot program with representatives of Whiteman Air Force Base, which also plans to implement such a program.
“We’ve already met with Whiteman leaders to talk about what we can do to help support their implementation of Green Dot,” Kiger said.
To learn more about Green Dot facilitator sessions or other opportunities provided by VSAP, contact Kiger at 660-543-8338 or email@example.com or Dusselier.
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The Green Dot Program 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 soley 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. The project is 85 percent funded with federal money and 15 percent funded with nongovernmental sources.