It was a fairly typical night for Monica Sherman and Chris Clement until they heard someone mention a woman had hit her head and was bleeding at a nearby fraternity.
“We both decided to go look for her,” said Sherman, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. “So we climbed through a window (at the fraternity) and we found her.”
Clement called the paramedics and both of them talked to the police before taking the girl home and getting her into bed.
“The girl ended up going to the hospital (the next day) and she turned out to be okay,” Sherman said.
That incident is what prompted Vandal Green Dot to recognize Sherman as Green Dot of the day on Sept. 21.
“(Sherman) is the epitome of a Green Dot,” ASUI Director of Safety and Violence Prevention Sara Spritzer said. “She was just doing all these amazing things to help people she doesn’t even know and she was following up with them and helping them and telling them she cared.”
Green Dot is an interpersonal violence prevention program that focuses on providing basic education that will equip people to integrate moments of prevention within their personal relationships and daily activities.
“Green Dot is a continuum, it’s not just one thing that happens,” Spritzer said.
Virginia Solan, Violence Prevention Programs coordinator, said the continuum is a way to describe the range of interpersonal violence that occurs daily.
“Addressing language that can be problematic, all the way through to preventing person-on-person fights,” Solan said. “I mean there’s a whole spectrum but ultimately we are looking at preventing sexual assaults and homicide.”
The Green Dot program at the University of Idaho is relatively new. It launched this semester as a collaborative effort between various student affairs offices and the Dean of Students Office. Solan, Spritzer and other student leaders have provided Green Dot training for the intramural recreation staff, resident assistants, as well as many one-on-one talks with people.
Solan said she plans to go into living groups over the course of the next few weeks and continue to spread the word about Green Dot, in addition to implementing an aggressive social media campaign.
All of this effort will culminate in a 7-hour, hands-on workshop that will take place Feb. 8.
“(The workshop is) for people who are really into it and really want to learn some great skills,” Solan said. “People who are really looking for some hands-on trying things out (and learning) how you can use humor and people working together with diversions and things like that to prevent violence. It’s to prevent violence but it’s also to set a cultural standard.”
And that cultural shift is the driving force behind Green Dot, Spritzer said. People like Solan attend the national Green Dot conferences and bring back the knowledge and skills to their individual campuses. And it spreads from there.
“It doesn’t start with all these programs and all these things that go on,” Spritzer said. “It’s more of like a social movement. The way (people like Solan) start adopting it into the campus culture is they speak with student leaders on campus. Their peers see those leaders taking part in this Green Dot movement and they say ‘Oh, that’s really cool, how do I get involved? I want to be a leader and I want to be perceived as one of these influential people on campus.‘”
Green Dot offers a way for people to lead a cultural change and preventing interpersonal violence as opposed to just raising awareness, Spritzer said.
And it isn’t about people being told what they should and should not respond to, Solan said. Green Dot is about giving people the tools they need to be able to choose.
“You get to pick and choose,” Solan said. “Maybe you don’t want to respond when somebody makes a rape joke. What we’re saying is these incidences are going to come up in your life and you might as well think ahead of time where you stand ethically as an adult, as a human being. If you think about that in advance, decide what your priorities are and then have some strategies with what you would do — it’s way more likely that you’re actually going to do something and you will actually be able to prevent somebody from being hurt in a way that’s going to affect them for the rest of their life. ”
And just like Sherman and Clement who helped a woman they didn’t even know, Solan said we all have the power to step in and help.
“You already have the tools,” Clement said. “When I see something bad, I just go and do it because I know that it’s wrong and it needs to stop.”
But it can be difficult to know what to do in a situation, Sherman said. And that’s where Green Dot can be useful.
“I feel like some people want to help out– they just don’t know how,” Sherman said. “Especially to incoming freshmen that information is probably very important to give to them just so they are able to know how to handle certain situations.”
Everyone is a Green Dot, Solan said. And when she wears her Green Dot pin, it is her promise to act.
“Someone yesterday said you have a weird green thing on your lapel,” Solan said. “And I said that’s my statement and that’s my promise to you. If I see interpersonal violence going on, and I see somebody getting hurt in any way, shape or form and I’m present — I’m going to do something about it and that’s my promise.”
Kaitlin Moroney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org