Campus helps to develop Green Dot Program
July 1, 2011Tweet
“No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”
If you start seeing that as a tag line to the e-mail signature of colleagues – or you see them wearing small green dot pins on their collars and lapels − you’ll know they recently became certified Green Dot trainers.
Paul Stroud, associate director of student conduct, did, and he explained that Green Dot is a very simple, but powerful concept designed to help mitigate violent or abusive situations. “It’s founding principle is to focus on bystanders or witnesses to violence and see if we can get them to do something. That’s the critical piece,” he said. “We want people to do whatever it is they can. If I can get someone to do that little bit, that’s better than them doing nothing.
“Also critical for me is to accept people where they are and for whatever they’re willing to do,” he said. “If enough people contribute, we can change the culture of an institution and get a critical mass of people to make little steps. That’s the essence of what Green Dot is all about.”
With a recommendation from the University’s Personal Safety Advisory Committee, Beth Riley, senior counselor in the University Counseling Center, spearheaded a search for a way the campus community could work together to address violence and abuse. “The committee decided something needed to be done for everyone to take responsibility for the safety of the community,” Riley said.
Her research brought the Green Dot Program to the fore. She hopes it will take hold for people, whether they’re on campus or not. “For staff, they might be more likely to be faced with a parent being rough with a child in the grocery store,” she said. “It might be as simple as distracting the parent or making a funny comment to the little one throwing the tantrum to diffuse the situation.”
Nearly 40 people participated in four days of Green Dot training in early June – the majority from campus, but others from Marywood University, SUNY Oneonta and local non-profit agencies. Binghamton joins Buffalo State as the only two SUNY schools involved in the program. Working with two trainers from Live the Green Dot (http://www.livethegreendot.com/), Binghamton established four committees to help move the program forward and develop a timeline for rolling out messages and training to others across campus.
Mary Lou Sollis, assistant to the vice president for research, will chair the Relationship Building Committee. The other committees − Prompted Response, Education and Social Marketing – will be chaired by Casey Parker, Help Desk analyst; Stephen Rebello, academic advisor; and Gregory Steele, assistant director of Mountainview College, respectively.
The Prompted Response Committee will develop a website and respond to questions that come in, the Education Committee will work on spreading the messages and the Social Marketing Committee will work on how the story is told – with social marketing, Facebook, the website and posters.
“One aspect of the training included how to have effective presentations by knowing our material and being well practiced,” Sollis said. “It’s the power of personal connection, developing and maintaining a network of colleagues – that’s where relationships come in.”
“One of the other concepts we talked about was the reality that vice presidents are not necessarily the best way to get other people to buy in (though Binghamton’s vice presidents are very supportive),” Stroud said. “We have to figure out what other people need to get them to buy in. Who are the people who really shape opinion? We need to begin talking with people and working the relationships we have and make new ones.”
Sollis added that the program has been put together based on years of research, data and training that’s proven to be effective. “It’s designed to shift norms from inaction to intervention,” she said.
Green Dot training includes a focus on the “three Ds”: Direct, Distract, Delegate. Each “D” represents a level of response that a bystander might take when seeing a potentially violent or abusive situation. Direct response is when a bystander personally takes an action to intercede, distract is when a bystander does something to take the focus away from the immediate problem and delegate is when a bystander calls 911 or someone else to take an action. “We did a lot of role playing and brainstormed options because what I’m comfortable with might be different from what someone else would be interested in doing,” said Riley.
The training hit home for many of the participants when they looked at a map covered with red dots – all representing a location where violence or abuse had occurred. “We used a red dot to indicate violence on a map and the green dot would represent intervention,” said Sollis. “We learned to recognize red dots and how to respond. We want it to become the norm. Our goal is to have as many green dots, or more green than red dots, on the map.”
The training was intense and required a major time commitment, but provided the infrastructure the campus needs, said Sollis. “You really need to know your material and have it well practiced,” she said. “This training provided a framework and common language and it’s based on research and data and what really works.”
Next steps include incorporating Green Dot messages into the Red Zone happenings for students during Welcome Back Weekend, training additional people, connecting through conference calls with the nearly 60 other colleges and universities that have implemented the program, and developing a campus-wide roll-out of the program. In addition, Binghamton is working to develop an assessment of the program to add to the body of knowledge.
“For some things, the reality is that some training is already taking place,” Stroud said. “For example, I already present to RDs and RAs, and we can take advantage of some things that are already going on.”
“But it might actually be January before departments see us,” said Riley, who added that “this training helped us to gather up the investment and energy around making this a safer place to live and function, and then to use that synergy to move forward and get others to act.”