On January 30th, students at the University of Portland filled the Cove for the campus’ Green Dot Launch Event. The event marked the official start of an on-campus program adopted from the University of Kentucky specifically designed to bring awareness to violence, more specifically “power-based personal violence,” and its prevention.
Presented by Tanya Crenshaw of the Engineering Department, the attendants of the Green Dot Launch Event vacillated between laughter and moments of silence. When asked in an interview about why humor was used on such a serious topic, Crenshaw answered, “I’m super weird. I don’t get embarrassed in front of people when I get to talk about nerdy things. But I had to be serious in front of an amazing room of people and I’m thankful for that. I’m a feminist personally, but I don’t want to blame all men so let’s just come together and deal with this. I do the jokes because if I were in that room, I would want somebody to do that.”
One appeal of the Green Dot program was its lack of blaming men or victimizing women. “A few of the male students I know appreciated it because they’re tired of being called a rapist. Because men know women in their lives and they want to protect them. Green Dot isn’t a new idea but in our culture, you need people to give permission to put their noses in other people’s business,” says Crenshaw.
And Martin Monto of the Sociology Department and a Green Dot Bystander agrees that this is a strength of the program: “1. Men can be allies and actively involved. 2. Men can be victims too. (More often stalking and same-sex relationships) 3. The ‘No means no,’ ‘just don’t rape people’ answer makes men defensive and not know what they can do. 4. There is a common interest and community responsibility- it’s not an individual issue.”
In addition to the idea of bringing the community together that both Crenshaw and Monto mentioned, the program includes specific ways bystanders can intervene and “do green dots,” against the violent “red dots.” Whether it be doing a ridiculous dance and suggesting to play N64 as Crenshaw suggests, or simply staying in the situation as Monto suggests, the program provides a wide range of intervention tactics based on the comfort level of bystanders.
The message? What is important is not how intervention occurs, but that intervention occurs at all.
The program also includes interactive bystander training session on Saturdays to become a “Green Dot Ninja,” and to demonstrate how easy it is to prevent violence and red dots through action and promotion of green dots in our community.