The Power of Prevention: Why I Believe in Teal Dot

The Dalai Lama once remarked, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.” But most of us have found ourselves hoping for change, as opposed to creating it. Quite frankly, I am tired of leaving change up to someone else. As a rising leader in our community, I have made a commitment to be a Teal Dot bystander and join others in the hopes of reducing the amount of power-based personal violence on our campuses.

You may be familiar with the statistic that one out of five students has been a target of sexual violence. A misconception about the Claremont Colleges is that this kind of violence doesn't happen here and that such a figure couldn't possibly apply here. But this statistic is shocking and very real. It has affected all of us, both directly and indirectly, whether you know it or not. 

It happens to the ones we love, the ones we hardly know and the ones we think such a thing could never happen to. Luckily, there is some good news. Administrators of the 5Cs have joined together to reduce the amount of power-based personal violence through the implementation of Teal Dot training on all campuses.

Teal Dot is a program designed to educate bystanders on practical solutions when facing a potential high-risk situation that might lead to violence. The three-hour interactive training provides students with knowledge and awareness of these high-risk situations and skills to prevent them from ending with violence. 

While I recognize that we will probably not be able to get the number of sexual assaults down to zero right now, I am confident that by joining together and taking this crucial step, we can actually reduce the number of people who experience violence, thus creating a safer culture.

Each time I go through the program, I get a little something different out of it. My reactions to the first training were very emotional. I was shocked to see how almost everyone in the room—almost 100 of us—raised their hand to show that they knew someone who had been a target of violence. I was moved even more to see that, again, almost everyone believed that a bystander could have stepped in during one of these high-risk situations. But no one did.

It became clear to me that partner violence and sexual assault affect everyone, most importantly the ones we love. Why, then, if so many people have witnessed the potential risk of violence, has hardly anyone done something to stop it?

As we moved through the Teal Dot training, I became aware of two things. One, sometimes the line between violent behaviors and common behaviors is extremely difficult to identify. And two, maybe the reason we sometimes fail as bystanders is because we don’t actually know what to do.

I decided to become a facilitator because I hoped to encourage my peers to attend and become a certified Teal Dot bystander—that is, a bystander who will act to stop the violence. I am not encouraging acting like the party police, and I certainly can’t force anyone to attend a Teal Dot training session. But if we, the 5C community, want to finally act and make a change by reducing power-based violence, we must work together and spread the message that it will not be tolerated in our culture.

And this is where I see change. At my first training, I had hope that I could help be a part of this movement. But now, after facilitating voluntary training for a group of students, I have hope that we are moving toward the solution. The number of students who are now aware of and equipped with skills to prevent violence far exceeds the original number that attended my first training.

We’re changing the norms. Power-based personal violence will no longer be tolerated at the 5Cs, and as students of the Claremont Colleges, we have a social obligation to step in when our family is in trouble. So far more than 500 students have gone through the Teal Dot training to gain valuable knowledge that will help them be more than just a watchful bystander in any high-risk situation.  

This number is still growing, but we need you to join the movement. My roommate and I proudly display the Teal Dot certificate outside of our dorm room to spread awareness. Today, I call upon you to encourage your own roommates, friends, teammates and classmates to become aware of the statistics and be a part of the change.

No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something. I can promise that what you’ll get out of a Teal Dot training is knowing what to do and when to act, and the knowledge that we are collectively uprooting sexual violence by preventing it from happening in the first place. I encourage you all to participate and become part of that 'something' that will change our culture for the better.