At the University of Kentucky, creating a safe campus starts with the students.
Fusion’s Alicia Menendez traveled to the University of Kentucky in the second installment of a series that spotlights how some schools are tackling that issue.
The University’s comprehensive approach to the primary prevention of violence — the so-called “Green Dot” program — capitalizes on the power of peer and cultural influence.
The premise behind the program is simple: ending violence on campus happens one green dot at a time. So what is a green dot? In the simplest terms, a green dot is a metaphor. While a red dot represents an act of power-based violence, or a choice to tolerate, justify or minimize violence on campus, a green dot represents any behavior, choice or attitude that attempts to stop violence before or while it’s happening.
The University created the Green Dot program back in 2008, making it one of the first schools to implement a bystander program of its kind. The program has been so successful that it has been adopted by colleges across the country and has been implemented in a number of Kentucky high schools. This summer, the White House even acknowledged UK’s approach as an effective method of prevention.
Green Dot is unique because it attempts to prevent violence before it happens. It’s working to create a campus-wide culture that encourages intervention and relies on students to look out for one another.
“I’m not going to be there, you know. I’m not going to be in the social setting late on a Saturday night or whatever, but they’re going to be there,” UK President Eli Capilouto told Menendez. “And if they can be empowered so they can stop something… we’ve done a good thing.”
Changing campus culture is easier said than done, and while the program is relatively new and is not yet mandatory for all incoming freshmen, UK students believe Green Dot’s focus on bystander intervention is the key to creating an expectation among those in the community to step in when they believe a fellow peer is in trouble.
“I feel like some of it is blind faith to say ‘I hope you’ve been through Green Dot training and I hope you know to intervene,’” Senior Resident Advisor Allyson Lough explained. “But just as much as I would intervene, I’m trusting that my fellow student, my peer, someone in their 18 to 20s, someone who is also a University of Kentucky Wildcat, is willing to recognize that we are similar, and that we respect each other enough for them to step in for me.”
Alicia Menendez will continue to cover this topic. She will be travelling to different colleges across the country during this school-year.
Note: If you know of a school that has a sexual misconduct policy that you think is working or wish was different, let us know using #AMtonight or tweeting @AliciaMenendez.