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GreeNDot wins award, prepares changes for second year

| Wednesday, September 7, 2016

More than 100 students went through GreeNDot’s bystander training in its first year. Now, just starting its second year, the violence prevention initiative will be honored at Saturday’s football game against Nevada as one of the six organizations awarded the Presidential Team Irish Award.

“I think two of the things that make GreeNDot remarkable for our campus is its cross-campus collaboration — you have faculty, staff and students all working in a way that’s different from every other violence prevention initiative I’ve ever been part of — and its impact on our campus has been really amazing,” Christine Caron Gebhardt, director of the Gender Relations Center (GRC), said. “People have really taken to the message, I think, because it’s very straightforward. It’s something people can get their hands on and it’s very practical.”

The Presidential Team Irish Award recognizes a department as a group of people that live out core values of the University and do it in such a way that it impacts the entire University, according to the website for the Office of Human Resources.

GreeNDot is a “campus-wide initiative for violence prevention” that works by promoting culture change about violence and how everyone does their part.

“What we like about GreeNDot is that it takes a large issues like sexual assault, or stalking or domestic dating violence and breaks it into strategies that a person can do in their everyday life and that is suited to who they are so that all of the individual efforts and individual choices to do green dots have an overall impact of changing Notre Dame’s culture, as well as preventing violence from happening here,” Gebhardt said.

She said the main service GreeNDot offers is bystander training, which encourages participants to “do their part” to prevent violence with the “3 Ds”: delegate, distract and direct. Over 300 people have expressed interest in being bystander trained this year, she said. The GRC plans on holding six trainings this year.

“This school year, we’d like to have over 500 people to be trained,” Gebhardt said. “We have a number of overview speeches that we’d like to make sure that we reach. We are trying to reach more faculty because we feel like faculty can be one of the strongest voices.”

The training teaches participants about “red dots,” or individual decisions that contribute to a culture of violence, and how to replace them with “green dots,” or individual decisions that promote change in this culture.

“I think one of the most powerful parts of the training is the steps that a predator takes in order to find someone to prey upon,” she said. “I think it’s very intense, but it also helps people understand that when they see a situation playing out, while it may seem harmless, there’s actually an intentionality behind it that, as you see those steps, you see how you as a bystander may be able to intervene either before something happens, but also remind people that, regrettably, there are times that we can’t, but how they can intervene after and take care of the person who’s been harmed.”

With the “strong momentum” from last year, Gebhardt said the GRC is hopeful about GreeNDot’s second year, especially with some of the changes being introduced.

“One of the key things we recognize is really having students be more directly involved in the implementation, so we set up the student advisory committee,” she said. “I think that’s one of our biggest initiatives this year. Ultimately, we want this to be something the students feel ownership of and the students can shape it to what it needs to be for Notre Dame, not just for this year, but for the long-term future.”

Senior Mary Kate Healey, one of the members of the new student committee and who is working on the social marketing subcommittee, said the students will help with advocacy and awareness.

“You need to have students involved in order to make a campaign for students,” she said. “We’re the voice of the student body for the adults.”

Healey was pulled in because of her previous work with Campus Ministry; she said other student council members were pulled from athletics, student government, etc.

“If we’re going to say that we’re a community or a family and then acts of violence happens between students, there’s clearly something wrong there,” Healey said. “Having people from Campus Ministry brings that perspective, as well as letting the organization know that, as a faith-based institution, we’re not okay with what’s happening.”

In addition to introducing the student advisory committee, Gebhardt said the GRC is also adding to their promotional plan for the program.

“Ultimately, we’d like to get bystander stories out to people, because we’re hearing about the great ways in which people have used GreeNDot, and we want to get those stories out to other people so that folks can see that doing a green dot, while it’s courageous, may not be as hard as folks think it is,” she said. “If we can just have people share their stories, we can take that collection of green dots and show how we’re actually changing Notre Dame’s culture.

“That’s really the heart of GreeNDot, that every day we’re sending a message about what Notre Dame stands for.”  

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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