Visualize for a moment that unforgettable image of small red dots spreading across a computer generated map, symbolizing the spread of some terrible epidemic – with each tiny red dot representing an individual case. With disturbing speed, the three or four single dots multiply and spread until the whole map emits a red glow comprised of a zillion tiny dots.
Now imagine a map of Transy with similar red dots. Each red dot on this map represents an act of power-based personal violence (partner violence, sexual violence, or stalking) – or a choice to tolerate, justify or perpetuate this violence. A red dot is a rape – a red dot is a hit – a red dot is a threat – a red dot is a statement that justifies or minimizes the violence – a red dot is an individual choice to do nothing in the face of a high risk situation. Power-based personal violence is not a huge, solid mass that can simply be removed with one swift action or policy.
Rather, it is the accumulation of individual decisions, moments, values, and actions made by the men and women from every corner of our campus – students, faculty, staff and administrators. It’s hard to know exactly how many red dots are on our map at any given moment – but we do know there have been enough red dots to create a culture that sustains far too many acts of violence.
Now imagine adding a green dot in the middle of all those red dots on our map. Imagine that a green dot is any behavior, choice, word, or attitude that promotes safety for all of us and communicates intolerance for all forms of violence. A green dot is pulling a friend out of a high risk situation – a green dot is responding to a victim-blaming statement with words of support – a green dot is posting a message on Facebook – a green dot is coordinating a training for your student organization – a green dot is displaying an awareness poster in your room – a green dot is wearing your green dot gear – a green dot is striking up a conversation with a friend about how much this issue matters to you – a green dot is writing a paper or giving a class presentation on violence prevention. A green dot is simply YOUR individual choice at any given moment to make our community safer.
How many green dots will it take to begin reducing power-based personal violence at W&L? How many of us need to add green dots to this map to begin to make a difference, and begin to outshine and displace those red dots? We don’t know the exact number, but we do know this: if most of us choose inaction – if most of us choose to close our eyes to this issue – then the red dots stand! If we do not begin replacing moments of violence and inaction with moments of support and safety, then we will surely continue to have our friends, partners, colleagues and classmates become victims. That is not okay. If most of us open our eyes to this issue – if most of us choose action – then things will begin to change for the better in our community.
The power of Green Dot is simple: Red dots bad. Green dots good. You decide to make a difference.