By Jeff Murphy, February 9, 2018
WARRENSBURG, MO – A student-led initiative is being launched in February to foster
more communication about steps University of Central Missouri students can take to
address issues related to sexual assault and other forms of power-based violence.
Known as Project Safe, this initiative consists of opportunities that include a public presentation by national sexual violence prevention expert Jeffrey S. Bucholtz and presentations of the Green Dot bystander intervention program in seven residence halls. All of these activities will take place Feb. 12-25. Bucholtz’s remarks at 7 p.m., Feb. 22 in Hendricks Hall will provide a campus focal point for the two weeks of activities.
All events are being sponsored and coordinated by the United Student Housing Association (USHA) and the Office of Violence and Substance Prevention (VSAP). Also helping to fund this initiative are the University Housing Leadership Committee, It’s On Us student organization, Fraternity and Sorority Life, the President’s Commission on Inclusivity, and a UCM alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous.
The idea for these special events originated with campus USHA president Davontae Hair, a UCM sophomore public relations major and member of the Army ROTC from Kansas City. Hair approached VSAP expressing a desire to establish programs aimed particularly at students in residence halls in order to make them more aware of issues such as sexual violence, and how they can help address it.
“We want students to know that it happens on campus, and we are trying to fix it. Safety is our number one priority, and we want students to feel safe any time of day,” Hair said.
“This is an excellent example of the way we want to work with students on campus,” said Amy Kiger, VSAP director. “Davontae came to us and asked what we can do together…It is always exciting to have a student leader who is onboard with doing some prevention through Green Dot.”
Green Dot is a program that was implemented at UCM in 2015. It targets everyone in the community as agents of change regarding prevention of violent acts such as sexual assault, relationship violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
According to 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, VSAP members suggest 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. This represents 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.
Hair said residence hall students will be given a 45-minute overview of Green Dot, beginning with the first presentation slated for Feb. 12. Wesley Hobson, VSAP violence prevention specialist, noted that this will be an overview of the five-hour bystander training Green Dot program that helps students to identify red dots or warning signs in which they must determine how they should intervene. It demonstrates a “three Ds approach, which is direct, delegate and distract.”
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. Through a team-like effort, Hair and VSAP hope to accomplish social change through opportunities such as bystander intervention training.
“Overviews will be advertised in each residence hall building,” Kiger said. “They are a brief way for people to get their feet wet in Green Dot and understand how they can change culture.”
Bucholtz’s appearance will help reach individuals beyond the residence halls. An award-winning instructor at Southwestern Community College and public speaking consultant, Bucholtz is director of We End Violence, a violence prevention social business, and outgoing president of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council. His presentation, “Yes! Yes! Yes!,” is a satirical and interactive look at ways culture facilitates sexual violence. Participants will explore ideas about healthy sex, obtaining consent, victim blaming, and bystander intervention. It is a thought-provoking and pragmatic tool for motivating a desire to build a world free from sexual violence.
Individuals who want to learn more about Bucholtz’s presentation or upcoming Green Dot opportunities through Project Safe can visit the USHA Facebook site or contact Amy Kiger at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about bystander intervention, they also can visit the Green Dot website ucmo.edu/greendot.com.