Green decals started showing up on campus recently, the unveiling of an initiative that encourages a broader awareness about personal violence. Green Dot shifts the focus from potential victims and perpetrators to the importance of bystanders, who are trained to think and act in ways that make the campus environment intolerant of power-based personal violence.
“Green Dot is a campus initiative to change our culture around what is referred to as power-based personal violence, which includes domestic/dating violence, sexual assault and stalking,” says Kimberly Sluis, dean of students. “Green Dot engages the entire community as potential bystanders, giving everyone a role. The idea is that everyone has to do something.”
North Central College is only one of two colleges and universities in Illinois to embrace the concept and train campus leaders. Limited workshops have been held on campus for students, faculty and staff and more are planned. The training provides scenarios that relate how bystanders can step into a situation and alter its outcome without putting themselves in danger.
“It might be as simple as distracting someone at a party or changing a situation that you sense is leading to an unacceptable behavior,” says Sluis. “It’s about teaching people a skill set that reduces those crimes of opportunity.”
With increased awareness comes increased reporting, and Sluis says that the campus has seen an uptick in the number of reports of alleged incidents of personal violence. “Colleges that are doing a good job of talking about these issues and addressing them have higher numbers,” she says. “It’s part of building an awareness of the problem and making students feel safe to report the incidents. And it allows us to make sure those students get support.”
Heading up the training on campus are assistant directors of residence life Andy Pettee and Sarah Avery, along with Carin Silkaitis, assistant professor of theatre. “We’re rolling out the Green Dot campaign to market to a wide array of students, to build interest in Green Dot and what it means,” Silkaitis says. “We want students to get involved and plan to attend the workshops we have scheduled in November and December.”