Power-based personal violence is tough to tackle alone. It’s a good thing thousands of students, faculty and staff at Stony Brook are now “Green Dots,” ready to intervene if need be.
Green Dot is a strategy for preventing forms of power-based personal violence such as rape and sexual assault, relationship violence, harassment and stalking. The program teaches people how to recognize potentially violent situations, and how to intervene to prevent or address such violence.
“The Green Dot strategy is really simple, and carries a core emphasis on personal connection, individual responsibility and social accountability,” said Christine Szaraz, a counselor with the Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO). “This has really resonated with the Stony Brook community, students and staff alike. Green Dot seems to have really hit home.”
Green Dot Comes to Campus
Stony Brook’s Green Dot involvement started in January when 35 staff and faculty joined six students for a four-day instructor training hosted by the CPO and sponsored by a U.S. Department of Justice grant.
Student training kicked off in April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) and continued with monthly 8-hour sessions in the fall semester. In total, 126 students — including many student leaders, club members and resident assistants — proactively received full Green Dot training at Stony Brook in 2015.
Not only that, nearly 3,500 other students, including more than 2,800 first-year students, were introduced to the Green Dot philosophy and engaged in bystander intervention dialogue during hour-long overview sessions.
“Green Dot has really changed our lives, empowering us to make a tangible difference on campus,” said Christine Publik ‘16, an English major who participated in the training and helped create a Green Dot awareness video on campus. “It’s essential that students, faculty and staff work together.”
Empowering Employees to Help
Faculty and staff played a major part in making Green Dot such a success on campus — some even volunteered their time on Saturdays to conduct trainings.
College Physician Assistant Karen Dybus has worked in Stony Brook’s Student Health Services (SHS) for 23 years, and unfortunately, she’s had to help victims of violence on campus.
“I’m able to provide individuals who experience power-based personal violence assaults the care and support they need, along with appropriate referrals for ongoing care,” said Karen. “But looking in the face of someone who’s had that experience, that kind of a violation, has long made me want to be on the forefront of preventing it from occurring at all.”
Only after Green Dot training does Karen feel empowered to make a cultural difference when it comes to violence.
“Even though I don’t have the time to leave my SHS post to go out on campus and affect change, I can give an hour or two several times a month and still be an effective Green Dot team member.”
Karen isn’t the only staff member giving Green Dot the green light.
“It has been truly humbling and inspiring to serve as a Green Dot instructor, and to witness such a wealth of students take ownership in making our community a safer place,” said Student Activities Coordinator of Evening and Weekend Programs Christine Noonan. “The more talented and driven people on board, the more support there is available to swing the pendulum toward a violence-free campus.”
Affecting Change Beyond Violence
The philosophy Green Dot uses to combat power-based personal violence may even inspire other forms of cultural change on campus.
“Green Dot makes intervening accessible, and it’s resonated with our students in other ways,” says Dean of Undergraduate Colleges Rachelle Germana. “As part of HeForShe, our students also went through a gender-based curriculum — and started applying a Green Dot discourse to the broader idea of gender justice.”
Effecting positive cultural change is a major goal for Stony Brook University.
“Through movements like Green Dot, Red Watch Band, HeForShe and others, we engage our community to achieve the kind of sustainable and important change that’s reflective of our values and commitment to providing a world-class education at a world-class institution that goes far beyond,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Peter Baigent.
Green Dot’s Future at Stony Brook and SUNY
Along with offering more Green Dot training sessions for students in 2016, Stony Brook University will serve as the host site of a Green Dot training initiative for all State University of New York (SUNY) institution employees January 12-15, coordinated by Smita Majumdar Das, Assistant Director for the CPO.
“I believe peer engagement is the most powerful way to affect cultural change,” President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. said to those receiving Green Dot training certificates. “I hope you never have to use your Green Dot training, but if you do, I think you’ll serve a powerful role in achieving the campus culture we want.”
Learn more about Green Dot training at Stony Brook and find out how to get involved at the Center for Prevention and Outreach.