Teal Dot Training Equips Bystanders to Act

“No one has to do everything. Everyone has to do something.”

In an effort to peel back the layers of apathy and equip willing participants with proactive and reactive bystander behaviors, the undergraduate Claremont Colleges (5-Cs) have united to create a program called Teal Dot Bystander Training. The aforementioned motto is a call to replace hopelessness with helpfulness.

Teal Dot is an offshoot of violence prevention training program Green Dot, begun at the University of Kentucky. The name is representative of red dots on a map that denote acts of violence; the antidote is the green dot, individual actions that help to prevent circumstances of harm, violence or fear, namely domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault/harassment. The goal is to give trained bystanders the tools and confidence to help prevent such incidents. Green Dot curriculum is informed by concepts and lessons learned from cross-disciplinary research, including that concerning violence against women, public health, psychology and communications.

Bystander training programs are now a requirement for all colleges that receive funding from Title IV programs (such as Pell Grants) and were mandated in March 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act.

In advance of the mandate, members of the Claremont Consortium, including the Harvey Mudd Office of Institutional Diversity (OID), attended Green Dot training during May 2013. They then modified the program by creating a three-hour training session—to encourage more student participation—and selected the color teal, which is associated with sexual assault awareness, one area covered in the training.

“The overarching goal of Teal Dot is to mobilize a force of engaged, proactive bystanders,” says Angelica Ibarra, Harvey Mudd assistant dean for institutional diversity. “Most individuals want to help but don¹t know how. Teal Dot provides us with a set of tools and empowers us to use those tools.”

Training sessions, which began in February, are attended by students, staff, faculty and administrators who participate in interactive exercises that help them to recognize potentially dangerous situations and learn how to safely intervene. The afternoon and evening sessions, held at various 5-C locations, including the Harvey Mudd campus, are facilitated by staff from 5-C student affairs offices and Claremont University Center.

More than 120 Harvey Mudd students have participated as Teal Dot trainees or volunteers, including proctors, mentors and other student leaders. Student body vice president Crystal Hsu and Atwood dorm president Victor Bhattacharyya found the training to be valuable.

“Having concrete methods for dealing with potential red dot moments is especially useful, and while I hope I will never have to use them, they make me feel more prepared to deal with such situations,” says Hsu.

Bhattacharyya says, “I learned to act, and that it is my responsibility to do so, and that doing any amount can be enough at times.”

The 5-C Teal Dot committee, consisting of representatives from Scripps, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, Pomona and Harvey Mudd colleges, will present the program (“Making a Difference: One Teal Dot at a Time!”) at the Western Regional Conference of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) this November.

Teal Dot is one of several programs focusing on the health and safety of students at The Claremont Colleges. Other programs and services include:

Harvey Mudd Student Health and Wellness. The Associate Dean of Student Health and Wellness Dean Q serves as the on-campus health and wellness counselor and consultant for students, proctors, faculty and administrators.

Campus Safety. The first responder to emergencies, providing 24/7 safety escort service to The Claremont Colleges community.

Student Health Services, Tranquada Center. The primary outpatient-care center for The Claremont Colleges community. Some of the services provided include stitches, immunizations, physical exams, STI tests and treatment, confidential HIV testing and counseling, pregnancy tests, birth control options and allergy injections.

Student Disability Resource Center. Offering centralized disability services.

Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services. Services include short-term individual therapy, couples therapy, stress management, theme-focused therapy groups, short-term structured groups and consultation services for those concerned about the emotional well-being of a friend.

Health Education Outreach. Provides leadership in health education programming and serves as a resource for information on health and wellness.

Office of the Chaplains. Provides a 24-hour meditation chapel, lounge and library as well as counseling and referral services.

Haven, online sexual assault education program. Mandatory for all incoming students at the five undergraduate colleges.

Project Sister Family Services. An independent counseling and support service supporting The Claremont Colleges (located on the Scripps campus).

The Wellness Room. Located on the Pomona College campus and available to all Claremont Colleges students. Equipped with a vending machine that includes the emergency contraceptive Plan B.

Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault. Student groups at The Claremont Colleges that support survivors of sexual violence and promote consent on campus.