Evidence of University of Missouri efforts to change the campus climate around sexual harassment and abuse appears as a green dot on a map.
The campus map — a metaphorical symbol — on the university’s website is loaded with clusters of red dots, each indicating an act of sexually abusive language or behavior that might have occurred.
But more and more, those crimson dots are being joined by green ones, indicating moments when someone stood up to or denounced sexual misconduct on the campus. They all create a visual image of a cultural shift taking place on the Columbia campus.
Green Dot is a national violence prevention program started by Dorothy Edwards at the University of Kentucky in 2006-2007. It’s since been duplicated at high schools and more recently on college campuses across the country.
MU’s Green Dot program, along with its Office for Civil Rights & Title IX, were highlighted in a new report by the Association of American Universities as examples of programs that are working to halt campus sexual harassment and sexual violence through education, awareness, training and prevention.
“The premise is to counter those red dots with actions that can keep our campus safe, and that is what is metaphorically considered a green-dot action,” said Chris Walters, the prevention coordinator for MU’s Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, where the campus Green Dot program is housed.
He said the perception is that red dot acts are pervasive on campuses. “The idea is to put so many green dots on that map that there isn’t space for any red dot action.”
The AAU report also applauded the University of Kansas. KU was commended for expanding its efforts to address campus sexual violence in the surrounding community, including memorandums of understanding that KU established with the Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center and the city of Lawrence.
Also, KU researchers received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year to help colleges and universities in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska adopt sexual assault policies and prevention strategies.