Violence prevention program makes its way to UAF
Lizzie Jepsen/Sun Star Reporter
Sept. 17, 2013
Green Dot’s slogan, “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something,” summarizes their mission.
Green Dot is a prevention program designed to stop violence before it happens. Its goal is to educate people to become more aware of their surroundings, teach them to recognize the signs of a harmful situation, and then how to intervene. More specifically it is focused on sexual, domestic, and dating violence, stalking, child and elder abuse and bullying.
In the program, a green dot is an action that promotes safety and demotes violence. Wearing a Green Dot lapel pin, having a Green Dot poster or just talking to friends about Green Dot makes a statement about your intolerance for violence.
UAF is the pilot university in Alaska for Green Dot. The committees in charge of choosing a pilot location in Alaska decided that UAF would be ideal because of the wide range of people it can reach. This summer, UAF faculty and staff took part in a two-day, Green Dot training course held at the International Arctic Research Center Akasofu building. Women’s Center Coordinator, Kayt Sunwood, is involved in the training and was part of the training this summer.
Each year, Alaska holds a Domestic Violence Prevention Summit. Last November a group of UAF faculty attended the Summit, where another group presented the Green Dot program. This presentation sparked the interest of UAF faculty. “Those of us who were there were very excited by the bystander idea,” Sunwood said.
The “bystander idea” is a unique perspective held by this program – the idea encourages those who may not consider themselves qualified to help – to take active steps in preventing and minimizing potentially harmful or dangerous situations.
“It’s just something relatively small that you can do to make a difference,” said Anne Williamson, ASUAF Office Manager and Advisor. “Green Dot seems to me, to be very accessible to students. It’s really good at meeting you where you are.”
Students on campus seemed to agree with Williamson. “It sounds like a good idea and it seems like it would benefit not just girls, but also some guys that might be a little quieter,” freshman Geological Engineering student Sierra von Hafften said.
“It sounds like a great program, just as long as it is not abused,” said Bryce Hiles, freshman Geological Engineering student.
“I think it is a good program. If people know more about what happens, it’s just a basic prevention. A lot of people don’t think that it actually happens, but it does,” freshman Mechanical Engineering student Kelsey Lindahl said.
The location for the Green Dot office on campus has yet to be decided. Sunwood feels the location itself is very important because it should be “a place where faculty, staff, and people involved can connect in.”
The university is in the process of putting together a trained team, according to Sunwood. Since the program is based on evidence and researched violence prevention methods, the university wants to make sure all leaders involved and all aspects of the program are in place to ensure that the program will be effective when launched.
“A lot of universities take nine months to a year to gear up. Hopefully, we can have ours up and running sooner,” Sunwood said.
Williamson encourages people to become involved. “This isn’t just another club or barbeque, this is something that could happen to you or your friends.”
Unfortunately, this is true. Domestic violence and harassment is very high in Alaska. Almost 75 percent of Alaskans have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, Alaska has the highest rate per capita of men murdering women, child sexual assault in Alaska is almost six times the national average, and out of every 100 women who reside in the city of Fairbanks, 50 have experienced intimate partner violence. These are just a few of the daunting statistics found on the UAA Justice Center and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence websites.
“If you can educate students to learn where to intervene, you teach them how to help prevent violence,” Williamson said.