The Green Dot movement at North Central is approaching a crucial number of students, faculty and staff involved on campus. Its participation rate of nearly 10 percent signals a culture change, says Cindy Washburn, North Central College violence education and prevention coordinator.
Green Dot is an innovative national social movement that works to make communities intolerant of power-based personal violence—domestic/dating violence, sexual assault, stalking—by engaging bystanders, who are trained to think and act in ways that foster this intolerance. It ultimately seeks to change the culture surrounding power-based personal violence.
North Central first adopted Green Dot in 2012, when only two colleges in the state of Illinois were involved. Now, more than 250 colleges and universities across the nation and 11 institutions in Illinois participate.
“As one of the first campuses in Illinois to adopt the Green Dot strategy, we have positioned ourselves as proactive leaders in working to prevent power-based personal violence,” says Kimberly Sluis, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Green Dot allows us to tap into the very best of our community, at every level, to create a culture where violence is not tolerated.”
Every term, the College holds bystander training workshops for faculty and students.
“Our own faculty and staff conduct the trainings, so it feels very personal. These people work with and care about our students,” says Sarah Koukal, director of residence life and one of the program’s campus leaders. Among other key faculty and staff critical to the program’s success are Amy Clarke Sievers, director of student involvement and associate director of the First-Year Experience, and Carin Silkaitis, associate professor of theatre.
Since implementation at North Central three years ago, approximately 225 students and 70 faculty/staff have been trained as bystanders. “The training prepares us to recognize situations that have the potential to become violent and gives us options about what to do,” says Karl Kelley, professor of psychology. He calls the training “powerful” and “worthwhile.”
As Green Dot has expanded at the College, Washburn has seen an increase in the number of reports of alleged incidents of personal violence on campus.
“The reports don’t mean violence is happening more on campus; they mean people are more aware of the issue and understand there are people on campus who can help,” says Washburn.
This increase in trained bystanders has caused a recognizable shift in the culture around power-based personal violence on campus.
“We hope that if a student sees something unusual he or she feels empowered to intervene in a positive way,” says Koukal. “There is a peace of mind that comes from knowing that your students all know what Green Dot is and how to use it. A movement truly affects a campus when it gets into the language and students begin to use it more regularly.”
Emily Molidor ’16 can attest to this statement. “After I did the training with some of my friends, we had a lot to talk about. We discussed how realistic the topics are in our lives.”
Phillip Norris ’16, president of the Student Governing Association on campus, explains, “I’ve been able to use my Green Dot training in action, and if I had not been trained I would not have acted.”
However, the 10 percent participation rate isn’t the ultimate objective for North Central.
“Our long-term goal is to create an environment and community that is intolerant to violence,” says Washburn. “Ultimately, we hope this isn’t a problem at North Central, because people who perpetrate violence would not be welcome on this campus.”
More Green Dot trainings will be planned in the upcoming academic year for students, faculty and staff. For more information on the movement, visit livethegreendot.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No one has to do everything. Everyone has to do something… What’s your GREEN DOT?
By Lauren Baltas ’16