University explores Green Dot expansion

Angelo Angel

Kent State President Beverly Warren discussed the need to make Kent State one of the healthiest universities, which includes properly addressing sexual assault on campus.

Warren said the universty’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is currently observing viable options that could satisfy this request.

“Two (options) that I think have real promise is how might we require this through the First Year Experience (FYE) class,” Warren said. “It would provide our students with information on prevention, aspects and what are the support services available to them.”

While Green Dot is a voluntary program based on power influence, Warren said she wanted to see the program move forward alongside a website to better educate the student body.

Launched in Fall 2014, Green Dot is a bystander approach for the prevention of power-based personal violence that relies on the power of cultural and peer influence. Green Dot holds presentations and workshops aimed at making students take initiative when they see a situation that could be deemed questionable and unsafe.

Warren said the Green Dot workshops and presentations, along with the FYE classes, would raise awareness on campus.

The interactive website by SART would work as a place where students log into the site and go through a series of activities, readings and questions on sexual assault, alcohol and consent.

Jennifer O’Connell, director of Office of Sexual & Relationship Violence Support Services (SRVSS), said that it would be a one-on-one session between the student and the website.

The website will launch a test run during the 2017 spring semester and will be available to students in some FYE classes.

“We’d spend the spring semester working out the bugs out and then it would fully launch for all FYE students in August,” O’Connell said.

Only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, according to Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), an anti-sexual violence organization.

Warren said it’s necessary to first create an environment that offers support to those in need.

“What we have found is that we had more incidents of victims reporting when we have that safe zone to report,” Warren said.

Liz Schmidt, vice president of Kent State’s Students Against Sexual Assault, feels that emulating that type of environment on campus would result in people coming forward with their unreported cases.

“Just knowing that one person will listen to you, it makes a world of difference,” Schmidt said.

Drawing from her own experience of being a survivor, Schmidt said that having a safe environment is essential to giving individuals the confidence to come forward and report their incidents.

“And knowing that it matters enough for the person who’s listening if it’s reported in an official way, that the institution that you’re a part of cares,” Schmidt said.   

Angelo Angel is a senior reporter, contact him at [email protected]