How Westminster is Using ‘Green Dot’ Program to Help Prevent Sexual Assault

green-dot-training

Students in a four-hour training session for Green Dot on Dec. 3. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNE RULO.

BY STEFANIE EGGLESTON AND SYDNEY SEXTON

As part of Westminster’s growing effort to prevent sexual assault, 34 students participated in a Dec. 3 training for Green Dot, a comprehensive program that shows bystanders how to intervene when they witness acts of power-based violence.


Executive Director of the Wellness Center Dr. Kasi Lacey, Counselor Anne Rulo and Director of Residential and Greek Life and Assistant Dean of Student Life Jackie Weber led the four-hour training, which was mandatory for the president and risk manager of every Greek organization on campus.

“The overarching goal of this program is to change the campus culture,” Lacey said.

According to Lacey, Green Dot focuses on empowering students to be part of the solution and gives them the tools to enact change, whereas before the training, they may have not known what to do in violent situations. Although the Green Dot program focuses on decreasing acts of power-based personal violence, it can also be used in other situations where a bystander is present.

“Green Dot is empirically based, and research studies show that there is a significant decrease in these behaviors,” Lacey said, explaining why she prefers it over other prevention programs.

The program describes the appearance of a red dot as any unwanted act of power-based personal violence that occurs, including stalking, assault and domestic violence. Green dots represent actions that prevent red dots from appearing or “cancel out” the red dot by stopping situations while they are occurring or after they have occurred.

Green Dot also uses a strategy for bystander intervention that incorporates “three D’s.” These are “Distract, Delegate and Direct.” Trainees are taught to distract the person in danger or the person putting the other in danger by creating a diversion to defuse the situation, to delegate by getting another person or group to intervene or to directly take action oneself.

With these three options, Green Dot gives realistic intervention strategies that bystanders can be comfortable with.

“I thought the training was very helpful and important for our campus,” Remley intern Jordan Esry, ’18, said. “I think it’s a great first step in changing the conversation about sexual assault and letting other students know that they have a choice about what happens at Westminster. A lot of times I worry that people think they aren’t able to do anything when it comes to sexual assault, and Green Dot helps inform students that they do actually have a choice and an opportunity to help their classmates in these situations.”

Because Green Dot is a comprehensive training program that lays out bystander prevention starting from the top down, faculty and staff are trained first so they can then provide the program to students. They train campus leaders, who then take the ideas back to their respective organizations to share with members.

Lacey said she plans to start implementing Green Dot into programs for first-year students, such as L.S.T., in coming years.

In addition to the Dec. 3 training, multiple one-hour overviews have been held on campus, with more than 200 students participating. Organizations that have gone through these overviews include Delta Tau Delta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Delta Theta, the Student Government Association and the women’s basketball team. The overview was also held at a Diversity Dialogue.

There are six trained staff members on campus who can provide the one-hour overview or four-hour sessions: Lacey, Rulo, Assistant Director of Greek Life Nicole Elliott and counselors Kelly Famuliner, Dr. Caroline Rodriguez and Dr. Jennifer Bandy. All of these instructors attended a four-day, 28-hour extensive training so that they can provide the program to students. In the future, more faculty and staff are expected to go through the training.

Next semester, students can expect another four-hour intensive training, multiple hour-long overview talks, another panel discussing Title IX and how the process for reporting incidents works, as well as events throughout April to bring awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Students who would like their campus organization to participate in an hour-long overview of Green Dot should contact Lacey for more information.

Lacey said that she wants the campus to be as transparent as possible, especially when it comes to sexual misconduct procedures. Lacey and Associate Professor of Mathematics and Physics Dr. Erin Martin are applying for a federal grant to specifically address sexual assault on college campuses.

 

Stefanie Eggleston is a junior majoring in English and business communications. She is The Columns’ social media coordinator and has been a staff writer since her first year at Westminster. Eggleston is also the president of Literature Club.

Sydney Sexton is a junior studying accounting and international business. She is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board, Honors Commission, French Club and Student Foundation. 

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