The Medium recently covered a story regarding the Green Dot Campaign that the University of Toronto has initiated (February 13 2012, “Green dot on campus”). If the readers don’t remember, this campaign aims to build a campus free of violence and to diminish the fear associated with it. Simply put, it is a bystander training program that is meant to give individuals the knowledge to stand up together, as a community, against a perpetrator and prevent an act of violence from occurring.
When I mention violence, I’m referring to everyday incidents such as stalking, a hit-and-run in a parking lot, hitting, uses of force, threat, intimidation, or harassment of an individual—all forms of power-based personal violence that can be committed by our friends or strangers, but hopefully not by ourselves. Often we are witnesses to these acts but we don’t do anything to prevent them from happening. Possible reasons why we might not do something when we witness an act of violence is fear for our own safety, fear of creating a scene, or fear of embarrassing ourselves. These are all legitimate reasons that are obstacles to our actions. The Green Dot Program does not tell you what to do, it just prescribes that you do something; silence and inaction is what allows acts of violence to be committed. The program teaches that you can directly approach a perpetrator, cause a distraction, or speak with others to take action against violence.
During Reading Week, I had the opportunity to attend a Green Dot Campaign training session. During this one-day training event, I learned the knowledge that has empowered me to stand up to perpetrators. Listening to the many stories that were shared by fellow students and staff in attendance has emphasized the prevalence of power-based violence and given me the courage to prevent it when given the opportunity to do so. It was an amazing experience!
I’m sure that among a possible upcoming TA strike, mid-terms, and the politics of UTMSU, we, as students, might overlook the importance of preventing violence and our power to do so. But violence on campus does exist, and whether you have experienced it personally or your friends have, the Green Dot Program can empower anyone with the knowledge to step up and stop violence from occurring. I encourage all students, staff, and faculty to attend a Green Dot training session.
The important aspect is that everyone becomes involved to create a better UTM community.