By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Last month a group of 11 IU Southeast employees completed Green Dot bystander intervention instructor training to help make IU Southeast a safer community.
The four-day training was one of several actions funded by a 2018 grant from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to aid in the IU Southeast Reduce Sexual Violence and Stalking Project.
IU Southeast was selected as the IU institutional nominee to apply for the grant, and was the only institution in Indiana to receive it. Employees from fellow IU campuses also participated in the exercise.
Green Dot training has been shown to help participating campuses reduce incidents of unwanted sexual victimization, sexual harassment, stalking, and psychological dating violence.
It has been used in more than 300 colleges, more than 50 high schools and middle schools, all branches of the military and in various sectors of the working world. It is currently being implemented on four continents.
“The Green Dot movement allows people of all backgrounds and beliefs to unite about ways that we can prevent or intervene against violence,” said Dr. Seuth Chaleunphonh, dean of student life.
Members of the IU Southeast community who participated in Green Dot instructor training were: Faye Camahalan, Seuth Chaleunphonh, Doyin Coker-Kolo, Jennifer Daniel-Daggett, Nikki Green, Travis Huntley, Karen Richie, Cayla Maurer, Kim Pelle, Christy Thomas, James Wilkerson. (Members of the campus community who are interested in a training for their group are encouraged to contact these individuals.)
In spreading the word about Green Dot through faculty, administration, staff and students, Chaleunphonh and the other certified instructors from the initial training seek to inspire campus influencers to amplify the message that everyone can do something about sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
“The biggest cultural change will be for each member of our community to know that in doing something helpful, they are joining in the collective message that sexual violence is not welcomed,” Chaleunphonh said. “We are giving one another permission to look out for one another to build this culture of care on and off campus.”
The Green Dot curriculum is informed by dozens of disciplines, including concepts and lessons learned from research and theory across the domains of sexual violence, psychology, diffusion of innovation, bystander dynamics, adult learning and communications.
The universality of the problem, and the breadth of knowledge involved in combatting it, is reflected in the spectrum of IU Southeast community members who took part in the training.
Nikki Green, OVW grant coordinator and director of Standup, Teach, Advocate, Respond (STAR) violence and prevention efforts on campus, is spearheading Green Dot initiatives at IU Southeast.
While the early stages of Green Dot training will focus on faculty and staff, the ultimate goal is for bystander intervention ethos to permeate the student body.
“It is our hope that students will become familiar with Green Dot culture beginning at their IU Southeast orientation and they will then incorporate what they learn in their relationships and interactions here on campus and in the community,” Green said. “They will play a huge role in creating and maintaining the culture on our campus.
For Christy Thomas, administrative secretary for enrollment management and student affairs, the training is a point of pride, putting her on the front line of changing the culture from reactive to proactive.
“The reality that we have all been either impacted personally, or that we know of someone who has been impacted by stalking, dating/domestic violence and sexual assault, is overwhelming,” Thomas said. “This training is providing me with the actionable ways I can proactively contribute to a solution for our campus.”
Karen Richie, personal counseling, appreciates Green Dot as a form of early intervention that can prevent deeper and more serious impacts of abuse beyond the duration of the event itself.
“One person’s intervention may affect another person’s mental health for the rest of their life,” Richie said. “It may also inspire others to intervene in another situation, creating a snowball effect of individuals helping one another.”
The Green Dot approach enables everyone to be part of that culture change. That is especially important for incoming students, who will instantly see that violence isn’t tolerated, and that everyone is expected to do their part, according to Thomas.
“To make culture change happen, it is never just one person doing one big thing,” Thomas said. “It is when a lot of people each do something–little things add up to big change.”
Homepage photo: alteristic.org.