By: Sarah Knox, Staff Writer
This spring, the Campus Safety Project will begin implementing Green Dot Bystander Intervention Training to students. The Green Dot Strategy, developed by self-described “social accelerator” Alteristic Inc. in 2006, is based on the principle of “mobilizing communities by harnessing the power of individuals” in order to create “a safe and equitable society.”
Devon Mulligan, the project coordinator for the University of Southern Maine’s Campus Safety Project, noted that the training specific specializes in power-based interpersonal violence. Mulligan stated that the strategy with Green Dot is to move passed gender-based violence and move into power based in order to open up the conversation. Mulligan said, “When we use this ‘in-speak’ of ‘ violence’. . . we are missing a huge group of people that can have the tools and can participate. . . .”
Another goal in open conversation is encouraging small actions rather than large actions. “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something,” Mulligan said about Green Dot’s goals, “. . . creating bigger moments with small efforts. . . .”
“We are not asking you to leave everything at the door- in fact, bring it with you. Bring your barriers, concerns and still, you can do the work and still you can participate,” Mulligan said, showcasing the open-door environment that Green Dot has.
Green Dot is still very new to USM, where the discussion started in the Fall of 2018. The discussion then led to USM faculty and staff to become Green Dot certified in January through their four-day training. Throughout the Summer of 2019, the certified trainers then went through a 75-minute overview of the program, solidifying a stronger and more passionate foundation. During this overview, they explained what the work is, why they are introducing it to the USM community and why USM cares.
The introduction of Green Dot will be brought to students in Spring 2020. Free non-mandatory training will last four to six hours, allowing students to become what Mulligan described as “early adopters” or in other terms, ambassadors. Mulligan said, “we want to use their social capital because we all have different people that listen and want to hear us. . . where is your social capital? Who do you want to influence to also create this safer space and community for everyone?”
Mulligan said that the goal for Green Dot is to be a continuing discussion. Instead of being training that is once completed, it will be ongoing and constantly developing to the community’s needs and capabilities.
Mulligan explained proactive and reactive green dots. Reactive being in the moment actions and proactive being an ongoing effort. In regards to proactive green dots, Mulligan said, “. . . posters, speakers etc. will make it clear that we don’t accept red dots- moments of interpersonal power-based violence, we only accept green dots. . .” Mulligan also said, “We don’t want to be a box that we check. We want to be something that is staying around all the time.”
Mulligan said, “Even though it is called Green Dot and we are learning from someone else, its USM. We are making it our own.” Green Dot will be customized to fit the specific cultural influences that USM provides alongside the Portland and Gorham community.
Bowdoin College has integrated Green Dot into its culture and the community of Lewiston-Auburn also has introduced the strategy. The future of Green Dot at USM is still in development, but Mulligan predicted that even more communities and colleges in Maine will incorporate the program into the campuses.