UVA Launches Sexual Violence Prevention Program

Posted: Updated: Jan 06, 2015 03:57 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia is bringing faculty and administrators together with students to stop sexual violence on grounds. The university is launching a Green Dot program to train bystanders to step up and take action.

The University of Virginia's top administrators are making it their mission to step in and stop the violence that has rocked the university community the past few months. Green Dot, a four-day training program started Tuesday at Newcomb Hall as students prepare to come back for a new semester.

Think of it like you're looking at a map of UVA with red dots on it. Every red dot is an act of violence. The goal of this training is to replace each red dot with a green dot, signifying when someone steps up to prevent or respond to violence.

The bystander training started Tuesday with 75 university faculty and administrators, including President Teresa Sullivan. On Wednesday 75 students will join the training.

The university started working with Green Dot to develop this training more than two years ago, long before the abduction of Hannah Graham and the Rolling Stone article alleging a "culture of rape" thrust UVA into the national spotlight for sexual violence.

Dorothy Edwards is leading the training to prevent sexual violence on grounds. “We're focused on dealing with this issue before it happens, not trying to clean it up after. So, we're empowering students, faculty, and staff with specific skills so that not only when they see something high-risk, they can act and get involved,” she stated.

The program prepares people to become green dots - those who intervene or respond to acts of violence.  “We can change the culture here quickly, and we can do it by many people doing small actions. This doesn't take a herculean effort to change the culture here,” said Kirt Von Daacke, an associate professor of history and assistant dean at the UVA College of Arts and Sciences.

Edwards is tailoring this training in the wake of Hannah Graham's abduction and the Rolling Stone magazine article. “We know one headline, one good speech from a president, one funding stream doesn't reduce violence. Violence gets reduced when every single person each does their little thing and those things add up to something bigger,” she stated.

The university staff and students will come together at the end of the week to create an action plan to expand bystander intervention programs around grounds. Edwards says the university will offer bystander training sessions for students as soon as next month.