What Green Dot is Doing for UCF

Have you ever been in a situation where two people are arguing in a public place, and the tension in the air is so strong that it has the ability to split hair? You watch them arguing, and all you can feel is secondhand embarrassment for the two people. Do you ever just hope that someone else will step in so that you don’t have to? Introducing Green Dot, a program here at UCF that will train anyone from students to professors so that they have the skills they need to be an active bystander.

Green Dot is the program behind the Let’s Be Clear campaign that is going on across campus. With a mission statement that aims to make the campus a better place by reducing the amount of potential and real acts of violence, I knew that I wanted to go through training. Here's what I learned.

While there are many people who care about and want to prevent violence, there aren’t enough people who know how to handle these situations when they’re happening. Green Dot recognizes that it is everyone’s responsibility to be an active bystander, which is why the training is open to everyone.

An active bystander is a person who does not only witness a situation but is actively making efforts to diffuse it. With Green Dot training, an active bystander is equipped to handle nearly any potentially violent situation. There are three effective ways that these situations can be handled.

The first way is to be direct in your approach. So, in the situation of seeing two people arguing, you would be willing to approach them and say something like, “Hi, is there anything I can do to help the two of you?” Now, not everyone is comfortable being so straightforward, which is why there are also two other possible approaches.

Delegating is the second approach; this might be easier for a lot of us, especially if we’re in a hurry to get to class and we come across this situation. As we’re noticing the situation, we don’t have to stop at the two people arguing and directly intervene. We can walk past, and look for someone who might have more time and be better equipped to handle the problem, such as a police officer. This way, we don’t have to put ourselves in the crossfire, and we’re still doing our part to dissolve the issue.

The final approach to handling the arguing duo would be to distract them with something. The example given to me when I went through training was to approach the pair and inquire if they had a car parked inside the garage because you had just seen a tow truck enter it. Chances are, they’ll forget about their argument for a split second and go check their car.

Now, that might not seem like a lot to learn for a five-hour training, but the depth that the Green Dot Facilitator and Coordinator go through is extensive. There are so many lenses to look at each situation with and so many different ways to handle each one. Sometimes the most trivial and ordinary things are the clues that an active bystander should pay more attention to.

Remember that while no one has to do everything, everyone has to do something—that's the purpose of Green Dot.

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