Green Dot Program Encourages Bystander Intervention on Campus

by TORI JAMES, Staff Writer

The Manhattan College student body and administration are taking a fresh approach to sexual assault, abuse and violence prevention on campus through the newly implemented Green Dot program.

Green Dot is centered on preventing sexual assault and violence on college campuses by encouraging students to take initiative to stop these problematic situations from occurring before they happen, rather than just being a bystander.

“It’s the moment when we see potentially hazardous behavior and choose to step in and intervene,” Tiffany French, assistant dean of students and Green Dot instructor, said. “Violence isn’t okay, and we have to actually do something in order to make a difference.”

Studies described on Green Dot’s website have shown that Green Dot has reduced this kind of violent activity by fifty percent in high schools.

“Not everyone has to put on their superhero cape and stop every act of violence they see, but through the spread of Green Dot we can get these numbers down,” she said.

There are three different ways to approach the Green Dot: direct, delegate and distract.

“Direct” includes assessing the situation head-on and confronting the person in danger by asking if they are okay. “Delegate” would consist of calling outside assistance such as public safety, 911 or even an RA. The “distract” technique would be to divert the attention of the people in the situation unobtrusively.

An example of this would be making up an excuse for the potential victim to leave or even spilling a drink.

“A lot of people would typically not get involved when they see dangerous situations like this happen because it can be uncomfortable,” Jo-Ann Mullooly, RA and Green Dot instructor, said. “The purpose of this program is to help people react comfortably when they see something bad, even if it involves people they don’t know.”

On the flipside is the Red Dot, which is when someone witnesses a bad situation and chooses not to do anything about it.

“We all have a responsibility for people we don’t know to be an active bystander. Everybody is somebody’s ‘person,’” she said.

Another significant component of the Green Dot is the proactive aspect, which essentially requires spreading the word of the program. This includes posting about it on social media and spreading awareness through word of mouth. Manhattan College is doing its part by training several clubs, campus groups and faculty.

“Instead of mandating a session about it, we’re taking a direct approach and going through social influence,” French said.

So far over 200 people have been trained in the Green Dot at MC throughout the past six months, including all of the RA’s, faculty and administration, student government and Greek life.

“If you know everyone is doing it, it makes you so much more inclined to do something and get involved,” RA Morgan Seger said. “You might not be consciously thinking about it all the time, but when you look back you can say ‘I did something to possibly diffuse a situation that could’ve harmed someone’ and it feels good.”

There are several training sessions scheduled for Green Dot throughout the fall, which any student can sign up for through the residence life webpage.

“It’s a fresh approach to bystander intervention,” Mullooly said.

“Sexual assault and violence is a serious problem on college campuses, and Green Dot gives students the tools to do something when it happens. I think it’s going to make a difference.”