Green Dot Conference spots the points that need to be discussed regarding power-based violence

MU plans to host a nationwide event with other schools who participate in the Green Dot program next year.

“What if Michael Jordan quit? He would have never made Space Jam, and I love Space Jam.”

These opening words of encouragement in a YouTube video from the motivational Kid President, an internet sensation, kicked off the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center’s Green Dot conference early Saturday morning on Oct. 17 at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.

While the words of wisdom from Kid President helped establish the conference as an accepting and safe space for attendees, the issues of power-based personal violence that were discussed at the event were no light matter.

About 25 students attended the conference, ranging from freshmen to graduate students. Six Green Dot instructors along with one counselor from the Counseling Center were prepared to discuss how “red dots” — choices to cause harm to others or show apathy to someone’s choice to harm someone else — can be eliminated on campus.

The six-hour event started on a hopeful note when attendees participated in an anonymous survey. When participants were asked whether they felt that the conference could make a measurable change on campus, 85 percent felt fairly certain or positively certain. That positive attitude carried the conference throughout the day as educators broke down the tenants of interpersonal violence, stalking and sexual assault, and how to be both reactive and proactive as a bystander.

Senior Janna White said while she knew about the Green Dot program, she didn’t know about the conference until a friend told her about it. She said the conference gave her an opportunity to learn more in-depth about the program and its goals than she previously had.

“I decided to go because it looked interesting and, also, as a feminist and advocate for safety on campus, not just for women but for everyone, I thought that this would be a good place to pick up techniques,” White said. “Also, I’ve known about the Green Dot program for a while, but never really knew what it was about because it’s hard to get this much information into two-minute buzz words and blurbs. At the Sextacular Fair, they have a 90-second spiel, so it’s really hard to get all this information into something like that.”

The techniques taught at the conference were tailored to each individual who attended. Instructors understood that when reacting to a potentially violent situation, some people may respond differently because of their personality; for example, someone who is shy may respond differently from someone who is comfortable with conflict.

One approach students were taught to use for conflict intervention is utilizing the three D’s: Direct, Delegate and Distract. This method allows a student to assess the situation and decide what they may be the most comfortable with and will produce the best predicted outcome. White, who knows how she reacts to things, said this was helpful for her because she could delegate the responsibility to another person in order to help diffuse a situation, such as notifying a waiter if a couple were having a violent argument publicly in a restaurant.

Other students, such as senior Jessica Rademacher, said they felt comfortable directly involving themselves in situations to intervene. Although Rademacher said she will go up to a couple if she sees them fighting and insert herself into the conversation, the conference allowed her to understand different methods to approach the same situation.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less shy of stepping up into certain situations, so it’s kind of interesting learning how other people insert themselves into these situations to prevent them and how everybody has a different way of going about tasks and handling the situation at hand,” Rademacher said. “That’s kind of cool, because not only am I learning more about people’s own habits of preventing situations, but I’m also gaining more knowledge on how to prevent it myself.”

Rademacher said she would have liked to see more conversations at the conference directed toward the reality of potential male victims rather than just female victims. She said she feels it is an issue that is rarely talked about and needs to be addressed so students know how to handle those situations. However, Rademacher believed that the conference would still have an impact on campus as students begin to talk about the Green Dot process along with the power-based violence it hopes to put an end to.

“Let’s really show our incoming visitors and students every year that violence is not tolerated in any way, shape or form on our campus,” Prevention Coordinator for the RSVP Center Christopher Walters said.

Junior Jordan McFarland, Missouri Students Association senator and MSA presidential candidate, thinks that every student has the power to step up.

“You don’t have to have a title to do something,” McFarland said.

The RSVP Center is also planning a nationwide event between other schools participating in the Green Dot program.

Although the details are not set, the event will tentatively take place in September 2016 and aims to have as many schools that are willing to participate as possible. Walters said they are still looking for more schools on the West Coast and southern and eastern region of the country to participate.

Walters said that through collaborating with other campuses, more faculty, staff, students and administrators can be incorporated into the Green Dot training. Until now, only staff, faculty and administrators could be trained as Green Dot educators. However, through a proposed three to four-hour event, students could be Green Dot trained by the end of the day, Walters said.

“It’s that fun pull of being a national event, something bigger than ourselves,” Walters said. “By the end of it hopefully we all come together and (show) that violence is not tolerated. That we all have a part to do something, and there are folks willing to talk about this issue.”

The idea for the event arose after the creator and executive director of Green Dot, Dr. Dorothy Edwards, spoke at MU on Sept. 30 and consulted with the RSVP Center to discuss MU’s Green Dot program.

In addition to the nationwide event, Walters said that in January Green Dot instructors will be hosting a two-day event for the first time ever on a college campus . This event will pair students with full-time faculty, staff or administrators to train students to be peer educators. Walters said they are close to finalizing a date and time for the event.

Walters said the day will allow the students who were recently trained at the conference, as well as the many others who have been trained before, to be able to share their enthusiasm and passion in order to start conversations with others. Walters said in the future, he would like to see more green dots on the map in order to prevent red dots from ever occurring.

“If we could work ourselves out of a job, I’d be OK with that,” Walters said.

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