Vanderbilt hosts national Green Dot training

Vanderbilt hosted a Green Dot Violence Prevention Strategy instructor certification training program May 19-22. The 44 participants included attendees from other universities, including several from Middle Tennessee.

The idea of opening the training to other universities came at the behest of Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. He approached Mike Zimmerman and former Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Interim Director Kayce Matthews, following a Faculty Senate presentation on the Green Dot program. The provost said he wanted Vanderbilt to lead the way in teaching and promoting strategies for the prevention of violence

“He worked to extend an open invitation to all of our SEC partners as well as schools in the surrounding area so that we can become a central hub for this kind of training,” said Zimmerman, program coordinator for the Office of University Chaplain and Religious Life. He is co-chair of the Green Dot Committee with Women’s Center Program Coordinator Wanda Swan.

In addition to numerous Vanderbilt campus participants, the institute included representatives from Washington University in St. Louis, Westchester (New York) University, the University of Florida, Auburn University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay and Tennessee State University.

Zimmerman was gratified to see so many participants from the region.

“We can help spread the message together and really get it out in the community and collegially work together to make our campuses and the region as a whole safer for everyone,” Zimmerman said.

The green dot is the symbol and name of a national program designed to provide a comprehensive approach to violence prevention that capitalizes on the power of peer and cultural influence. The program has been adopted at a number of colleges and universities across the country. Vanderbilt adopted the model in 2009 and held an initial training institute four years ago.

“We’re being proactive about delivering the message about how to prevent violence and we’re keeping information fresh,” Zimmerman said. That means refreshing the message and creating a new cadre of trainers, with the help this week of Lea Hegge, trainer for Green Dot Etc., the national organization.

The Green Dot model seeks to engage the campus community through awareness, education and skills practice in proactive behaviors that establish intolerance of violence as the norm, as well as reactive interventions in high-risk situations—resulting in the ultimate reduction of violence.

Once trained, Green Dot trainers can then take the message to faculty, staff and students. Recent modules have been presented to groups from Plant Operations staff to art department faculty. The idea is to teach participants how to react, how to notice signs and to walk them through the process of getting help for themselves or others, Zimmerman explained. “It’s not only personal but a lot of times it’s teaching you how to be a resource.”

In particular, Green Dot addresses power-based personal violence, which could include bullying, stalking, intimate partner violence as well as other types of violent behavior. “The training is something that you take home with you,” Zimmerman said. “You take it to your friends and your family so they can recognize the signs and warnings of possible violence, from the way we interact with people to the words we use.”