The Harvey Mudd community is fairly closely knit; everyone looks after each other. With only 200 students per class, we’re all getting to know each other well. Keeping students equipped with dealing with uncomfortable and dangerous situations is a priority for not only Mudd, but all of the Claremont Colleges.
Last September, even before the US Department of Education enforced the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, we started Teal Dot. A bystander engagement program that aims to keep the five campuses sexual assault free, Teal Dot teaches students the skills necessary to intervene in suspicious events that might lead to adverse consequences. Teal Dot’s reception has been really positive across the 5 Cs. So many people are interested and we have received several emails notifying us of additional Teal Dot trainings being added because of all the demand.
Last Friday, I attended a Teal Dot training! I found it fascinating that Teal Dot is taught by administrators at each of the 5Cs, not by external facilitators. It adds much more of a personalized feel to the seminar, since they know more about sexual assault and the dangers on the five campuses. The training was a lot more comprehensive than I expected; we took everyone’s opinions and experiences into account while discussing the problems we face with assault, as well as the solutions. The facilitators acknowledged that sexual assault is not heteronormative, and we addressed bystander attitudes, the perpetrator’s side, and most importantly the receiver’s end of the situation. I also enjoyed the lecture and discussion based style of the training. One of the most interesting thoughts I heard from another Teal Dot participant was that when they witness something that looks suspicious, they tend to question their own credibility to stop a situation involving sexual assault, especially if they have no prior experience dealing with situations like that. The most important strategy, we learned, is to use the Direct, Delegate, or Distract method; this involves either confronting the perpetrator, asking someone else to join you in stopping the assault, or changing topics that will distract the perpetrator.
I certainly hope I’ll never have to use the skills I learned at the Teal Dot training while at Mudd, but if the need arises, I know how to address the situation! I appreciate having the resources right here on the 5Cs to learn about real life problems and our potential to solve them.