Follow The Green Dots: Stand For State Preparing To Launch University-Wide
Just about a year ago, the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Task Force released its 18 recommendations to combat sexual assault, the fourteenth of which was a call for the development of an initiative at Penn State to teach members of the university community how to properly intervene in situations of sexual assault and harassment and other misconduct. Penn State partnered with Green Dot over the summer and piloted a bystander intervention program with a select group of faculty and staff members from around the university who will eventually serve as teachers for the bystander intervention program that was created.
The program was renamed Stand for State to help brand itself as an initiative to empower Penn Staters to stand up for one another. The program is officially launching next week, and members of the university community should be excited learn more and, in my opinion, participate.
Stand For State Launch
On Monday, January 25 and continuing throughout next week, Penn State will officially launch Stand for State, an initiative aimed at reducing harm in the university community by giving students, faculty, staff, and others the tools they need to effectively take both responsibility and action to maintain a safe environment. Stand for State teaches safe and appropriate ways to address sexual misconduct, acts motivated by bias, mental health concerns, and high-risk substance abuse.
The launch will culminate in a kickoff celebration on Wednesday, January 27 in the HUB from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event, hosted by Stand for State and run by a number of volunteers who have taken part in the program already, will include interactive and informative stations as well as entertainment and snacks. Attendees will also be able to win things like t-shirts, pens, stickers, and gift cards to local businesses.
According to Penn State and Stand for State’s website, the launch celebration will take over the entire HUB, with stations throughout the building. The more stations you visit, the more opportunities you get to win promotional items (the majority of which I’m guessing are going to be green).
“I’m excited for the official launch of Stand for State because students, faculty and staff are ready for it,” Coordinator Katie Tenny said. “It’s not that people don’t care about this issue. They do care and don’t want their friends or peers to get hurt. Really simply, this initiative is about giving people realistic and safe options to step in and help when a person may be in harms way, as well as how to create a safer campus community for everyone.”
Stand for State is also launching at 17 Commonwealth campuses next week. Use the #StandforState on Twitter to learn more or to show support for the launch.
What Is a Green Dot?
The message is simple: encourage green dots, shut down red dots.
Green dots are, according to Green Dot, an “individual choice at any given moment to make our world safer.” Green dots are taking action when you have the opportunity to do so and being an advocate against red dots even when you don’t have to. While there is no specific number of green dots that will reduce or put an end to power-based violence, every decision to be an active advocate is a step in the right direction.
Last semester, Stand for State also piloted a few of the workshops with student leaders from various organizations. The three-hour session focused on the three D’s of bystander intervention: Direct, Delegate, and Distract, each of which is a strategy to diffuse a concerning situation. As a bystander, there are different things you can do, and depending on what the situation permits or your comfort level, different options to intervene. For example, it may not always be in your best interest to directly influence a red dot you see happening, or even delegate someone else to, but even a simple distraction can stop a potential problem from occurring or getting worse.
The Stand for State website offers a number of ways to be a helpful bystander without going through the program (though if you keep reading you’ll see I highly recommend it). For example, some green dots would include reading about things like sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking and how to be an active bystander in those areas and having an active, anti-violence stance on social media.
In the future, Stand for State plans to expand bystander intervention training to cover mental health-related issues, bias-related incidents, and risky drinking and drug use in addition to sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.
It Starts With Us
I had the opportunity to participate in one of the pilot workshops, and though I was skeptical about what I could learn and how I, as a single person, could incite change, I left inspired that the Stand for State program is just what Penn State needs, and that all students should have to participate (and, more effectively, want to).
The decision to pursue green dots and a safer Penn State is one that each of us can make, and one that we need to make in order to motivate change. Stand for State will make a difference in our community if we all decide to participate and learn what to do in a dangerous situation.
If there are only a few individuals advocating against sexual misconduct and violences, it’s hard to think that there will be any influence. Contrarily, if a large portion of the student body as well as faculty, staff, administrators, and community members do their part to help, we can diminish violence and other red dots. Bystander intervention is an opportunity for Penn Staters to definitively learn about dangerous topics that come up on a day to day basis as well as ways to stop them even if you aren’t involved or think you shouldn’t be.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s not easy to step in when you see an uncomfortable, high-risk, or potentially high-risk situation. The Stand for State program doesn’t teach you to be physically louder or to physically stand taller, but instead gives you tools and knowledge that translate into confidence. Knowing what to do is what can give students the power to feel like they can make a difference and deter an alarming situation, and if all of us learn about green dots and work to promote them, I think that Penn State can pioneer a university community of safety and dramatically decreased instances of sexual and relationship violence and misconduct, among other red dots.
Stop by the HUB on Wednesday to learn more about Stand for State and how bystander intervention can make a difference at Penn State and, if you have the opportunity, participate in a Stand for State workshop and advocate to promote green dots in our community and around the world.