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Monday, May 10, 2021

Students, professors unfamiliar with sexual assault prevention program

Green Dot Gators
Green Dot Gators

In 2019, a Title IX investigation found one professor guilty of inappropriately touching students and faculty. A resident assistant was charged with battery after a student accused him of trying to finger her. A student was raped on her way to the homecoming game. 

A study revealed that reports of sexual misconduct have increased on campus since 2015. In response, UF President Kent Fuchs has committed to eliminating sexual assault on campus. Green Dot Gators is one part of that effort, though some students and professors have never heard of it. 

Green Dot is an international effort to train bystanders on how and when to intervene in potentially dangerous situations like stalking or domestic violence, according to the program’s website. Green Dot Gators is the smaller, student-targeted version spearheaded by GatorWell. 

It was developed to equip faculty and students with bystander intervention know-how. An online toolkit urges professors to trust their instincts and speak to students when they feel something may be wrong. They are encouraged to attach a statement to their email signature, such as “I’m a Green Dot Gator supporter,” or “What’s your green dot?” 

In a press release, UF Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Heather White said she was hopeful that initiatives like Green Dot Gators would help prevent the rise of interpersonal violence and sexual assault. 

One study found that a campus with Green Dot training reported fewer incidents of violence than two campuses without bystander intervention training. The impact of the training on UF is less evident. 

Katrina Calkins, a 20-year-old UF health education sophomore, said she has never heard of Green Dot Gators. She doesn’t know what resources UF offers to combat sexual violence, but she thinks there are probably enough. 

“I don’t really see any harassment,” Calkins said. “I think it’s fine as it is.”

UF has implemented other preventative tactics in addition to Green Dot Gators. Upon being accepted to the university, students are required to complete online sexual assault prevention training. 

Adriana Alises, a 23-year-old UF international business graduate student, called the training irrelevant. 

“It’s the same old stuff that everyone tells you,” she said. 

The training should focus on the repercussions of assaulting someone, Alises said. It should focus less on avoiding sexual assault.

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Students aren’t the only ones unfamiliar with Green Dot Gators. Heather Gibson, a tourism, hospitality and event management professor, has taught at the university for 23 years. 

“I’ve never heard of Green Dot,” she said. 

Contact Hannah Phillips at hphillips@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @haphillips96. 

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