College Finalizing Green Dot Program

By Day Robins

At this year’s Feb Orientation, new students saw the soft-launch of Middlebury’s Green Dot strategy, a comprehensive approach to violence prevention that aims to measurably and systematically reduce violence within the Middlebury community by training students to be educated bystanders in situations where power-based personal violence may take place. The program, commonly referred to as “Green Dot,” is based on a model created by the non-profit organization “Green Dot, etcetera.” 

“We are working to train sets of students, faculty and staff this Spring so that when we have a hard launch in the Fall there will be community members who understand the strategy and skills and can share what they know with colleagues and peers,” said Middlebury’s Director of Health and Wellness Education Barbara McCall in an email, explaining the rationale behind the program’s soft launch with the new Febs. 

McCall, who is spearheading the program, also led the program’s training event at this year’s Feb Orientation. One-hundred and twenty five students went to the overview of the program during Feb orientation. Thirty students attended the six-hour training. 

Throughout the Spring, McCall and her team of over 30 faculty and staff members will be working with communications and the Dean of the College to create a launch plan and strategy for the formal launch in the fall of 2015. 

After careful review of a variety of bystander education programs, McCall and her team decided on the Green Dot model last summer. 

“We ended up selecting Green Dot for its proactive, solution-based approach that empowers every member of the community to play a role in violence reduction,” McCall said.  

“Green Dot seeks to reduce violence in the short term by developing community members’ skills, confidence, and connection to the issue while also addressing long-term culture change so that violence is not tolerated on our campus and everyone does their part to prevent it.”

An addition to the appeal of short and long-term goals, a second argument in favor of Green Dot is that it’s evidence-based. 

“Communities that have implemented [Green Dot] show up to a 50 percent reduction in violence,” McCall said. 

Third, the program is also considered a national best-practice by the Office on Violence against Women, which is the Department of Justice office sponsoring Middlebury’s campus grant. 

A final argument in favor of the Green Dot model is that it’s already been implemented on a number of college campuses. Connecticut College is a NESCAC peer that has implemented Green Dot. 

Starting in the Fall, new students will receive a 90-minute overview that introduces the program and allows for some time for skill-building. This overview will be a mandatory event for all new students during their orientations into the College, while the six-hour training will be voluntary. 

“The goal is to get approximately 20 percent of the student body to do the six-hour training so that there are peers on campus who are comfortable with bystander language and action and can support the campus discourse,” McCall said. 

More training opportunities for overviews and intensives for returning faculty, staff and students will be offered after Green Dot’s formal launch in the fall of 2015. 

Currently, 27 faculty and staff members have completed the four-day training and are trained Green Dot facilitators. Forty-five faculty members have gone through the shorter program overview. 

A meeting will be held at the end of this month to finalize plans for the program’s launch in the Fall. To learn more about Green Dot’s mission and strategy, visit livethegreendot.com.

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College Finalizing Green Dot Program