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Mace & Crown | December 14, 2017

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Kickstarting a movement

Antonia Tempesta | Contributing Writer

Sexual assault is bad, but that idea generally seems to be where a majority of institutions stop. At Old Dominion University, freshman attend “Red Zone Training” the morning after move in.

That four-hour program has the underclassmen follow along powerpoints and act out scenarios where ideally they would intervene, like when you see a girl get in a fight with her boyfriend or a classmate being pressured at a party. That aims to remind students that they should jump in; they look at immediately dangerous (and scripted) situations, and be the one to make the intervention. What it fails to do—address realistic situations and provide any other instruction than “No!”—is what Dr. Dorothy Edwards created The Green Dot movement to counter.

Dr. Edwards gave her keynote address at the “How to Kick Start a Movement” event, Sept. 26 in the Webb Center’s North Café. Edwards is the founder of the Green Dot program, one that aims to train students across a broad range of institutions, from colleges to secondary schools and Air Force cadets, about sexual assault and domestic violence. Whether that violence takes place on campuses or on military bases, Green Dot has developed its own rhetoric and offers training for situational intervention.

One of the techniques practiced is the Three D’s: being Direct, Delegating the responsibility to others and creating a Distraction to defuse a potentially dangerous situation. In the address, Dr. Edwards spoke on what pushed her to leave the University of Kentucky- the idea that she could change the world. Dr. Edwards said that it was her own personal and professional failure being the call to be the proactive change.

Dr. Edwards’ daughter was sexually assaulted before her creation of Green Dot; during the address, she spoke (briefly) on that crisis’ effect on her and her family. Part of that effect: Dr. Edwards resigning from University of Kentucky. She would go on to start a nonprofit organization with 33 members dedicated to combating sexual violence. After only two years, there are now over 400 faculty and staff spreading Green Dot’s message of intervention.

Her first goal was to give realistic tools to enable the community by disclaiming that “zero personal growth required.” In stating that, Dr. Edwards made the note that no one is immune to the culture that we are trying to change, and that one does not have to make a large self actualization move overnight. Practicing Green Dot is making the one decision that could provide aid in a potentially life-altering moment, combating the violence.

Among those in the audience was Brittany Hollis. Hollis is both a Psychology teacher at ODU and a graduate student doing her dissertation on the effectiveness of the Green Dot program. Utilizing ODU Women’s Center, Hollis is distributing and collecting pre-program, post-program, and a follow up.

Richard Czerniak and Kathryn Cook were representing their respective organizations. Czerniak was from CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocate group. CASA appoints advocates to federal cases of minor’s being in abusive and neglectful homes, and in turn the advocates serve as extra hands in home visits and write reports for the judges. Kathryn Cook was representing YWCA, an organization that aims to combat racism and empower women. The YWCA in Hampton Roads does a majority of work for victims or sexaul abuse or interpersonal violence. In providing free counseling, emergency shelters, and victim advocacy, the YWCA aids in the treatment of trauma to make meaningful change.

As Wendy White, the organizer of “How to Kick Start a Movement,” stated “Green Dot makes it possible for everyone to do their part in building a culture of respect and a culture against violence.” Green Dot, as well as the Court Appointed Special Advocates and YWCA, brings the topic of community mobilization full circle, providing students with differing opportunities to be the change.