Teal Dot Training Seeks to Engage Bystanders

Although the notion of personal responsibility is greatly talked about at the Claremont Colleges, putting it into practice can be difficult. A new cross-campus program is attempting to bridge the gap between ideal and implementation by equipping students with specific strategies that can ease the challenge of stepping up in uncomfortable situations. Since August, the Teal Dot bystander intervention program has trained more than 700 students
and faculty members from the 5Cs to intervene in
power-based personal violence, including sexual assault, stalking and partner
violence.

Teal Dot is an abridged version of
Green Dot, a national program designed to reduce power-based personal violence through
bystander intervention. A group of eight 5C staff members participated in a
Green Dot training last year and decided to create a spin-off version for the
Claremont Colleges, with permission from Green Dot. Teal Dot features a shorter
training period of three hours and a change to teal—the color, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, associated with
sexual assault.

Training sessions take place in locations across the 5Cs, including the Smith Campus Center at Pomona College, Vita
Nova Hall at Scripps College and HOCH Aviation Room at Harvey Mudd College. The sessions,
generally scheduled for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, span three hours in
the afternoon and evening. They are advertised through emails, CollegiateLink and Teal Dot’s Facebook page.

The team of administrators and staff
heading the project since fall 2013 includes Pitzer College Dean of Students
Moya Carter. Carter said that her goal for the program is “for all students to look out for each other, even if
you don’t know the other person.” 

“If a student sees someone in a situation that
doesn’t look quite right,” Carter said, “I want them to check in and take a second look.
Because what if it was someone you cared about? We live in a community, and we
are all responsible for looking out for ourselves and others.”

Angelica Ibarra, program
coordinator at HMC’s Office of Institutional Diversity,
reflected on the “amazing” student response to the program, seen in the high
influx of student volunteers and participants. After initial training sessions
this fall saw an overflow of students vying to participate, Teal Dot added
three additional training sessions. Ibarra said that many groups of student leaders across the Claremont Colleges, such as mentors, Orientation Adventure leaders and residential leaders, were mandated to
attend training.

Ellie Ash-Balá, Pomona’s Associate Director of Smith Campus Center
and Student Programs, also part of the team heading Teal Dot,
encouraged every student to attend a training.

“Attending a Teal Dot training
session will give you practical, doable skills that will equip you to help make
our campus a safer place,” Ash-Balá wrote in an email to TSL. “Three hours of your time can change someone’s life.
It is my hope that all 5C students will find time to attend a Teal Dot training
so that we all can work together to reduce violence in our community.” 

Alexi Wattis SC ’17, a Teal Dot trainee and programming team leader for Scripps’ Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, said that the training far exceeded her expectations and taught
her valuable lessons.

“I have always felt comfortable
intervening when I felt something bad was happening, so I was not expecting to
learn much from it,” Wattis said. 

However, she said, she found the training “very comprehensive” and “much
more detailed than I thought bystander intervention training could be.” 

Asian American Mentor Program mentor Yenny Zhang PO ’17 noted that, after training, she feels “much more prepared to intervene in any time of
power-based violence on campus.”

“The workshop was
interactive and really taught me that everyone has the ability to be an active
bystander, and intervention doesn’t just have to be direct,” Zhang said. “Indirect
intervention through delegation or distraction can often be the better option.”

Gauging the effectiveness of the
program’s results will be difficult, according to Ibarra, as the trend of
underreported statistics in personal violence complicates potential evaluations.
However, the board of program leaders are working to gather trainees’ responses
to the training itself.

Teal Dot finds
itself in the larger context of a nationwide effort to encourage active
bystanders. As of March 2014, the U.S. Department of Education enforces the
Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, which mandates that all colleges
and universities receiving funding from Title IV programs—nearly all institutions—provide bystander training. Teal Dot,
which fulfills this requirement, predates SaVE’s enactment. In this way, Ibarra
said, the program is “ahead of the curve.”

Ibarra said that the 5C
Teal Dot committee will also present at the Western Regional Conference of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, in Anaheim this November.

Students may register for training via CollegiateLink or like Teal Dot on Facebook to remain updated on future sessions. As a key takeaway from the
program, Ibarra referred to a Teal Dot motto: “No one has to do everything. Everyone
has to do something.”​

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