IWU to enact Green Dot program

Olivia Jacobs

IWU’s branded logo for the Green Dot Bystander Training Illustration: Illinois Wesleyan University

IWU recently announced a partnership with Green Dot, a strategy that helps provide awareness of potential violence and teaches how to become an effective bystander. IWU also assembled a Green Dot Implementation Team including faculty and staff members Kevin Carey, Christina Armstrong and Lindsey Kellar. The team introduced the Green Dot bystander interview initiative which will take place during the Spring semester. 

Green Dot focuses on the idea that power-based personal violence such as stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault is not okay and everyone must do their part to help. As the first part of the initiative, the Green Dot team asked the community to nominate students who are considered influencers of social change by colleagues and students. Students could also indicate if they are personally interested in being trained through the inaugural Green Dot Overview Talk and become adopters of the Green Dot strategy.

“We have trained 25 faculty and staff so far and currently have 23 students signed up with a few more days to go for sign-ups,” Director of Student Involvement Kevin Carey said. 

The Green Dot program is a national initiative utilized in K-12, colleges, universities and all branches of the military. The program was founded by expert Dorothy Edwards at the University of Kentucky so the program is rooted in research psychology and sociology. 

“There are structures and formats used to implement on campuses, so we were able to adapt our culture quickly and start making an impact. [The program] encourages people to consider ways they would intervene in realistic ways to ensure everyone is doing something to prevent power-based violence,” Carey said. 

Carey also said that many other colleges and universities utilize this training and strategy as well, but he believes the program will specifically help the culture at IWU and has the potential to bring sustainable change to campus. 

These training, awareness events and knowledge sharing experiences will help students, faculty and staff make decisions about how they should intervene when they see warning signs leading to potential harm. We know the community can benefit from understanding how to be realistic with their intervention and raising awareness of how important it is to recognize signs of power-based personal violence,” Carey said. 

The program is meant to be a sustainable program and strategy for years to come. The Green Dot Overview Talks, which are 75-90 minute interactive discussions, and the Three-Hour Full Bystander Training will continue to be offered each semester. Organizations and departments on campus will also be asked to help host these overview talks to learn and grow as a community. 

Some students, however, have expressed concern for how this training will help combat the issue that the people who typically need this training, perpetrators of violence, are not usually the ones who sign up.

“Thankfully, we have individuals on our training team who are connected to several different populations and student organizations on campus. We put the nomination option in place to ensure a cross-section of individuals were initially trained as early adopters, as our goal is for them to make proactive Green Dots,” Carey said. 

Green Dots are when you talk about ways to intervene and spread messaging about why power-based personal violence will not be tolerated while Red Dots are problematic behaviors that contribute to or tolerate violence. Carey said he hopes those who are a part of these training events learn how to stop individuals or groups, who may be enacting red dots, from enacting power-based personal violence.

The Green Dot training is about creating a cultural change on campus and helping everyone recognize that they don’t have to do everything but must do something. The training focuses on realistic actions that everyone can use to address how we intervene by making reactive and proactive Green Dots. 

“We hope this sends a message that we deeply care and recognize individuals on our campus have been harmed by power-based personal violence, and this training provides us a chance at reducing the number of victims through effective training on intervening. We believe our community of Titans will come together to uplift and support this important call to action in changing our campus culture,” Carey said. 

IWU is in the early phase of this program so there is no official date for when these upcoming events will take place, but they will be based on the strategy set by Green Dot. The Green Dot team plans on hosting a marketing blitz on campus with help from early adopters and plans on releasing a variety of branded items to give away and to promote the program. There will also be an action event that will take place in March followed by opportunities to sign up for open training. 

Students who are interested in signing up or nominating someone for the Green Dot training can fill out this form. More information can also be found on Green Dot’s official website.