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Campus Life Council promotes safety with Green Dot program

| Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Campus Life Council (CLC) met Monday afternoon for a presentation and discussion on the Green Dot program, a violence prevention strategy that seeks to change the culture of communities, such as a college campus. The CLC provides a forum for students, rectors and administrators to discuss matters that are affecting students affairs and includes two subcommittees: diversity inclusion and alcohol culture.

Christine Gebhardt, director of the gender relations center (GRC), offered an overview of the program to council members. She said the program promotes an effective model that focuses on the gradual change of culture.

“Change does not occur with one huge event,” Gebhardt said. “Oftentimes, history will point back to a huge turning point as an event, but it can actually trace back the little ripples that created a tidal wave to try to change something.”

The Green Dot program has two cultural norms, Gebhardt said. These are important because as the culture changes, there shouldn’t be as great of a need for bystander intervention.

“Not only do we need to look at what happens at parties on Friday nights and help you guys become great bystanders, but more importantly we need to create a culture that when students come to our campus, they know violence is not okay and that everyone needs to do their part to send the message about our new cultural norms,” she said.

Gebhardt said Green Dot stresses the importance of changing the culture, one decision at a time, until it becomes the norm without prompts.

“The point where people do something because of the culture around it is the point called critical mass,” she said. “We’ll know that we’ve changed our culture when 15 percent of our student body have been bystander trained by Green Dot. When we have 15 percent, we will have hit critical mass, which indicates enough people have bought into the message and are willing to live out the message.”

Council members discussed the program after Gebhardt’s presentation, highlighting the assets of the model. Senior Chizo Ekechukwu, diversity council representative, said she liked the Green Dot model because it did not demand students to change as much in their daily lives.

“I think this applies directly to both of our subcommittees, especially alcohol culture,” she said. “It’s a thing we can all do daily and over the weekend, making sure we’re taking care of people and not just saying we’re going to completely fix the problem right now, but thinking of changing in small ways first and things that are easier to do if people aren’t sure how to help.”

Gebhardt said the Green Dot program is most effective when it’s accepted by a large population.

“It doesn’t become one group’s initiative, it becomes a message of a community,” she said. “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

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