The week of Sept. 12-18 was Action Week for Penn State’s Green Dot program as a part of Stand for State, Penn State’s bystander intervention program. A “green dot” represents a choice a person makes to keep someone safe or to say “we do not tolerate violence in our campus community.” The Action Week goal was to generate as many green dots as possible. As of Sunday night (Sept. 18), Penn State’s green dot count was 11,584. That’s an impressive record of individuals who have made a choice to intervene to keep others safe.
I had the great pleasure of sitting with a number of students involved in the program for a Sunday brunch and then listened to a speech by Dr. Dorothy Edwards, the creator of the Green Dot Program. I was impressed on several counts. I sat at a table of students who were about to lead the training in our bystander prevention program. Each had spent four days in training, just so they could help train other students. Nearly 100 students had signed on to the training after listening to Dr. Edwards at University Park. Many more were listening and undergoing training on Penn State campuses across the Commonwealth. I was truly impressed by the number of students giving up their time on a Sunday afternoon to help keep others safe.
I also was impressed by the message of Dr. Edwards. In the past we have focused on telling male students not to be a perpetrator of sexual assault or violence. And, equally, we have focused on telling female students how to not be a victim. Dr. Edwards questioned whether the barrage of “don’ts” has been very effective. This approach also has missed important parts of our community – notably LGBTQ students. Her objective was to turn the issue around 180 degrees and have the vast majority of students who will never be involved in an assault to become a part of the solution – through bystander intervention. Her objective was to empower students to be able to look out for each other.
A student at the brunch said it best – if we have enough students involved – enough people making the choice to keep someone safe or let people know we don’t tolerate violence in our campus, then you change the culture of an entire community. That is why I am so proud of 11,584 green dots, so proud of the student trainers, and so proud of the students who were spending two hours in bystander intervention training on their Sunday afternoon.
For more information on Stand for State, bystander intervention, visit: https://www.livethegreendot.com/