BY KASEY CHEN
For the UAS Whalesong
The Green Dot etc. Initiative, a program that seeks to cut down on power-based violence, made an appearance at University of Alaska Southeast on Sunday, Sept. 18, for its inaugural round of Bystander Training. Their aim was to better equip those involved with the ability to understand and react as bystanders to situations pertaining to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and stalking. Students from universities around the country participated, and connected via intermittent live streaming of photos throughout the day.
The Sitka and Juneau campuses were represented by both the students attending and by the facilitators. Tara Olson, Juneau’s Student Activities Coordinator, led the program with Sitka’s Student Success Center Manager, Christopher Washko. Green Dot’s training curriculum stipulates that, “…the training can include as many community members as resources will allow, but priority should be given to members that carry the most social influence across sub-groups.” Among those in attendance were Community Advisors and other UAS student staff members.
The day’s events began with a lecture-style talk during which Olson asked, “What is the scope of these issues?” and continued by saying,“ We really need to look at statistics to get a feel for what these problems of power based personal violence look like.”
Olson stated, “1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted by the time they finish college, and 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 10% of men are rape victims. 1 in 8 UAS students, and this is a recent statistic, was sexually assaulted in the past year.”
On a more personal note, Olson went on to say, “I haven’t been comfortable with any statistic that I’ve seen. What we know is that far too many people are being hurt on our campus and in our communities.”
Explaining the terminology within the Green Dot Strategy, Washko started by saying, “When you see a map and there are red dots showing up, it’s something bad, right? If you see a red dot you can imagine this one occurrence, this one incident, this one outbreak of something bad. Then a couple more red dots pop up around it, and pretty soon it multiples and it’s all over the place. Then you’ve got this map filled with red dots.”
He then continued, “… imagine a single red dot showing up on our campus, and a red dot in this context is a single instance, a single choice to use a behavior, words or actions, to cause harm to someone else. Imagine then, that these red dots, these instances of harm that are occurring individually because of a behavior, a choice, are occurring all over our campuses. I promise you these things are happening.”
Washko went on to address the inverse of the red dot, the green dot, by saying, “The solution to trying to stop these red dots needs to be reflective of the problem, and that solution is the green dot. A green dot is also a single instance, a single choice that someone makes to make an effort, to take an active step to prevent, stop, interrupt, or make those red dots less likely to happen.”
“Proactive Green Dots are anything you might do to shift community culture,” Washko said, citing examples such as starting conversations about Green Dot with peers, volunteering for anti-violence organizations, and posting about Green Dot on social media.
Reactive Green Dots pertain to possible high-risk situations that require intervention on the part of the bystander. This type of green dot was divided into categories that Washko defined as the “three D’s: Direct, Distract, and Delegate.” Direct Green dots involve the bystander handling the situation head on and confronting those involved. Green dots that employ the distract method have the bystander changing the topic of conversation or pulling the focus of the situation away from a negative place. Delegating Green Dots take place when the bystander finds another person who is better equipped to handle the situation and entrusts them to stop it.
Participants partook in interactive activities throughout the training. Those attending were polled via their smartphones throughout the day with the results anonymously displayed on a screen at the front of the room. Students were also divided into teams and asked to participate in a number of games including a race to write as many hypothetical ways to intervene as a bystander in 4 different scenarios, and a competition to see which team could imagine the most possible Green Dots based off of random provided props. The teams competed for Green Dot chips that were later traded in for branded prizes.
The training lasted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., culminating in the participants circling up and each writing then reading a statement beginning with, “I believe” to the group. The event played into a series of anti-violence initiatives UAS has implemented on campus, coinciding with the September 8 screening of the documentary, The Hunting Grounds, which chronicles the lives of undergraduate rape survivors and the struggles they face. The Green Dot Initiative urges students at UAS and spanning the country to use their words and actions to prevent violence. Approaching the end of the day, Olsen made the statement, “ Believing passionately isn’t enough… because if you’ve learned this and you keep it to yourself, that’s as far as it goes, and we need you to take it further.”
“The Green Dot Etc. Strategy.” Live the Green Dot. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.