Green Dot Strategy: How a Community Can Save Lives

By Emily Pizza, Opinions Editor

4 a.m. on a Saturday during their freshman year, Rachel Evans and her roommate woke up to a couple in another room screaming at each other about something that happened earlier at a party. Evans and her roommate were at a loss as to what action to take.

“They were just like yelling and crying and it was awful but…my roommate and I were just lying there thinking ’’well, what should we do? Do we go get the RA?’’” said Evans.

Eventually the arguing stopped and the roommates went back to sleep, but the next morning Evans reflected on the severity of the incident.

“…I was thinking ‘wow, that could be a potentially harmful situation…like if that happens again I should do something about that’,” she said.

To help solve the problem of conflicted bystanders to red dot situations like this, the green dot strategy has been adopted by Kalamazoo College’s campus led by the Counseling Center and Office of Student Involvement.

“What we’ve been doing in the area of sexual assault prevention hasn’t been tremendously effective,” Counseling Center psychologist Deborah Rose said. “ [so] I started looking around at bystander interventions, fell over green dot and thought ‘this is my answer’.”

This program, originating from the University of Kentucky, attempts to move away from the “attacker” and  “victim” roles and give a job to bystanders who often feel excluded from conversations about sexual assault.

“[This program] will kind of awaken the sense of ‘oh yeah, this does happen to me, I can relate to this’…and awaken a sense in people that it is not only okay to intervene, but that it’s desirable to intervene,” Rose said.

This strategy hit home with Evans, who believes that members of the Kalamazoo College community have a responsibility to help each other in dangerous circumstances.

“This is a small tight-knit community, we should all help each other out,” Evans said. “Even if it doesn’t seem like its your place… If the people really don’t want your help they’ll push you away, but if it might be helpful then maybe that was the help they needed.”