New Green Dot program aims to end power-based personal violence

The Green Dot bystander awareness program, implemented in fall of 2017 at Iowa State, seeks to “mobilize communities by harnessing the power of individual actions.”

“The Green Dot program encourages, and even empowers, people to be engaged in ending power-based personal violence,” said Michelle Lenkaitis, Green Dot facilitator and operations manager in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

There are over 50 faculty and staff members trained to be Green Dot facilitators on campus, and four are from the College of Engineering:

  • Lenkaitis
  • Aliza MacKenzie, academic adviser, mechanical engineering
  • Christy Oxendine, academic adviser and international student liaison, engineering student services
  • Tamara Kerns, academic adviser, agricultural and biosystems engineering.

The Green Dot certification trains facilitators in the Green Dot strategy, persuasive speech, bystander training, social marketing, evaluation and action planning in a 4.5-day session.

“Green Dot is a concept that anyone can be a part of. It is about empowering bystanders and equipping them with tools to address issues in their everyday life, at work or in other settings,” said Jazzmine Brooks, Iowa State’s violence prevention and Green Dot coordinator.

Types of green dots

“A green dot is anything you do to make our community safer,” Brooks, who got involved in the program in 2013 at the University of Idaho.

Green dots are classified into either “proactive” or “reactive.”

Proactive green dots are things that you can do to make it less likely that violence, or a red dot, will happen. Examples include being publicly against violence in conversation and on social media, or wearing green dot gear.

Reactive green dots are responses to situations that might be harmful to someone or could lead to something harmful.

Examples of this include stepping in when you notice an issue, walking someone home after they’ve been drinking, so they get home safely, or telling a friend to back down when you know the other person isn’t interested.

Reactive green dots fall into three categories: direct, distract and delegate. Direct is handling the situation by confrontation, distracting is changing the topic or moving on to another activity and delegating is finding someone else who may be able to fix the problem.

Find your green dot

“It is recognized that everyone shouldn’t do everything, but instead just to try to do something. There are easy things anyone can do to impact culture, if we all do them together,” Brooks said.

Iowa State community members can get involved by volunteering at Green Dot programs, requesting presentations, attending bystander training or reaching out to learn more about incorporating Green Dot in student organizations or departments.

“People have felt safe sharing their stories, reporting and engaging in different initiatives around campus,” Brooks said. “Campus feels Green Dot is answering the question of ‘what can I do to help?'”

In addition to this training, Green Dot Action Week will take place from April 2-7, and the University Museums reACT Gallery presented a display to engage students about Green Dot through art on February 7-9.

For more information, visit www.studentwellness.iastate.edu/greendot, @ISUGreenDot on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or email the staff at greendot@iastate.edu.