August through November is considered a “red zone” for sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network).
Around these months, 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur, and first-year students are the most vulnerable.
At IUP, The Haven Project has a program called “Green Dot,” which is a bystander intervention program to make students, faculty, staff and administrators educated on how to intervene in high-risk situations and to know the signs of when to step in.
A “green dot” is any action that reduces the risk of violence in the moment, supports survivors or creates a culture less tolerant of violence.
This includes sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking
Green Dot coordinator and clinical case manager, Susan Graham, explained how the “red zone” months were most vulnerable to first-year students because they come to IUP and are new to the area, and sometimes have no support systems established yet.
“It’s not just that it’s new people, new relationships; it’s that there are also perpetrators that are looking for vulnerable people,” Graham said.
The Green Dot program’s end goal is to change the overall campus culture to one that is not accepting of violence.
“I think that this program will help keep a safe environment for new, incoming freshmen, like myself,” Tarrina Christy (freshman, speech-language pathology) said, “A new environment and location is scary to all freshmen. This program helps relieve worries of the dangers that can happen on and off campus.”
“Freshmen don’t create a culture; they step into one,” Graham said. “Being involved in the Green Dot program is a single choice to make our campus safer.”
The Green Dot program is evidence-based and is said to decrease violence on campuses by 17 percent according to Graham. When people are trained, they become more aware of situations, notice others intervening and are more likely to intervene.
Matthew Himes (freshman, accounting) said he had no idea that the Green Dot program was available to him and wished it would have been more talked about at orientation because it would make more freshman and students have a better awareness of what was going on.
“No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something,” Graham said.
While it is an unsaid rule, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and to make smart, safe choices. It is just as important to watch out for your friends and make sure they get home safely as well. Most importantly, if you see something, say something.
The Green Dot student organization plans to have their first meetings of the semester Tuesday from 5–6 p.m. in the Center for Health and Well-Being, Room G-60. It plans on hosting events and doing tabling events later on in the semester. Anyone that is interested is encouraged to attend.