Green Dot Mizzou aims to improve campus safety

The program's goal is to increase bystander intervention in certain violent crimes.

Graduate student Tracey Latimore and sophomore Lace Cline write their own personal creeds at the Green Dot's SEEDS Conference. The event's participants learned about preventing sexual violence.

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center hosted the Green Dot Mizzou Conference on Saturday, aiming to train MU students and faculty on what they can do to improve campus safety.

The Green Dot program started at the University of Kentucky four years ago and has since spread to campuses, community-based organizations and military installations. The program is meant to increase bystander intervention and reduce the prevalence of violence in the community.

RSVP Center Graduate Assistant Alyssa Ruth said if every act of violence on a map was a red dot, then every time someone stands up to prevent that violence it is signified as a green dot.

This past year the RSVP Center started to implement the Green Dot program with student organizations on campus.

“It’s important because our current rates of violence are unacceptable,” said Jennifer Sayre, director of training and development for the Green Dot, etc. organization. “The community has to come together and do something different to change it. In a really proactive way, Green Dot gives folks the knowledge and skill to keep their piece of the universe safer.”

At the conference, speakers discussed the different ways students can intervene in ways that are safe and not awkward, Ruth said.

“We discussed some of the things that hold us back from intervening,” Ruth said. “To change the way we think about intervening against violence, we have to figure out what makes us hesitate.”

The speakers also discussed terminology and raising awareness about Green Dots.

Junior Sean Nahlik said he attended the conference to learn more about Green Dot and hopefully teach others.

“The Green Dot program advocates safety and personal responsibility,” Nahlik said. “It teaches people not to look the other way.”

Junior Jerica Holt attended the conference and said she really liked Green Dot’s efficiency in getting the message across.

“When people hear Green Dot, they know exactly what they are talking about,” Holt said.

Junior Elizabeth Odum, an RSVP volunteer, said the most interesting part was their explanation of how to go out and actually do Green Dots.

“They talked about how you don’t have to be a super hero or the police, but you can always go out and have fun and do your thing, but you can also present the way of the Green Dot to everybody,” Odum said.

Sayre said this kind of training happens all over the country on college campuses, and at least 59 colleges and universities have certified Green Dot trainers.

“Universities are charged with a surrogate role of taking care of the folks in their community,” Sayre said. “If they are in danger, they can’t be expected to learn or do anything else."

Ruth said the conference allows students to come together in a group and discuss bystander intervention. If more students have the complete information, more students are going to do something about it.

“Part of being a Green Dot generator is doing Green Dots and having other people see that and feel empowered to do their own Green Dots,” Ruth said. “It’s changing the culture of violence and creating a culture where students feel it’s the norm to intervene.”

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