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UNLV Green Dot Program Empower Bystanders in Potentially Violent Situations

The Green Dot program can be found around UNLV's campus.

The Green Dot program can be found around UNLV's campus.

Sexual assault and harassment is a huge topic on college campuses.

The numbers of women and men who are assaulted vary depending on how the study defines it. But a recent Washington Post/Kaiser Permanente poll bolstered the idea that one in five women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault.

UNLV has taken on a national program that is trying to lower that statistic simply by creating awareness.

The Green Dot program asks bystanders to intervene. And the training gives students, staff and faculty the tools to stop a situation they may see happening.

Green Dot coordinators from the Jean Nidetch Women's Center put up boards all over the UNLV campus. The boards had red dots - which symbolically represented some sort of violent act. The boards had instructions asking students to take a green sticker and cover up a red sticker. Green Dot coordinator Carmella Gadsen said 764 students put green stickers on those boards.

Green Dot also involves hands on, day-long training with small groups of students, staff and faculty. A lot of what facilitators talk about is screwing up the courage to step up, and that stepping up doesn't necessarily mean putting yourself front and center, says Gadsen.

Students who participate in the training are asked to think about three D's: Direct, Delegate and Distract. Direct is to move front and center and tell that guy to stop harassing your friend. Delegate means to ask for help - a bouncer at a bar or, perhaps, even the police. Distract is to do something that stops the situation cold - like telling the person in danger that her car is being towed and she has to come out quick.

Christina Hernandez, director of the Nidetch Women's Center, says the last choice is a favorite of students, who love to dream up fake scenarios that will distract during iffy situations.

One issue that Green Dot trainers emphasize is the check in, says Lisa McAllister, program manager of the Office of Violence Against Women at the Nidetch Center. If you see a classmate who is visibly upset by the texts he or she is getting, ask them if they're OK; make sure they're not being stalked.

Of course, this means creating an awareness that asking someone if they're being stalked is OK. That, says Gadsen, is also part of the program. "If we all have a campus of people who are a little bit more cued in and know what to look for, then that will just become the norm on campus."


Christina Hernandez, director of the Jean Nidetch Women’s Center at UNLV;  Lisa McAllister, program manager of the Office of Violence Against Women at the Nidetch Center;  Carmella Gadsen, UNLV’s green dot coordinator

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)