|Arnold Grant Funds Campus Climate Assessment Projects
According to the American Council on Education, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE) will require colleges and universities to review and modify procedures for handling asserted sexual offenses, and carefully train personnel in this area.
Such obligations will go into effect on March 7, 2014, but the recent implementation of Green Dot training and campus climate assessments, propelled by Arnold Grant funds, has put Lebanon Valley College ahead of schedule.
Sociology professor Dr. Marianne Goodfellow and a team of student researchers have spearheaded these efforts to create a safer, more knowledgeable campus. “It speaks very well for our community here that we have launched this program a whole year ahead of the required mandate,” Goodfellow said.
Goodfellow was first introduced to the Green Dot movement in 2012, when the Lebanon County Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center (SARCC) held a community training session at LVC, which she and several others LVC staff members attended.
Green Dot, a national campaign, is based on the imagery of a map covered by red dots, each representative of acts of violence that include physical assault, sexual violence, stalking, bullying, or the choice to tolerate, justify or perpetuate such violence. The campaign’s objective is to replace red dots with green ones by training people to make behaviors and choices that promote safety for all citizens, ultimately communicating utter intolerance for violence.
In order to implement a Green Dot program at Lebanon Valley College, Goodfellow recruited students to help conduct campus climate assessments, necessary for determining if LVC was prepared to implement the bystander intervention-based program.
Karly Siffin ’14, a student in Goodfellow’s research methods course who had also attended the 2012 Green Dot training, was a part of a team that conducted a thematic analysis of LVC’s campus in the spring of 2013.
Using an assessment instrument created by the Pa. Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), the team interviewed four students, two faculty members, two staff members, and one administrator.
“We wanted to get a sense of what they knew about sexual assault, the resources available on and off campus, and their overall impressions of the campus climate,” Siffin said.
The researchers found that the LVC campus was at what the PCAR considers a level four. “It indicated that we were still in a pre-planning stage, meaning that our campus was not 100 percent ready to implement a sexual assault prevention program, but that there were people ready to be a part of it,” Siffin said.
“The idea is that the score should, over the next several years, go up, hopefully to the highest level, a nine, to where there is a whole cultural commitment on everyone’s part to not tolerate any violence,” Goodfellow said. Another assessment is slated to occur in the spring of 2015.
In attempt to move to the next level of preparedness, a group of students, including Siffin, JoAnn Arndt ’14, Justin Radanovic ’14, and Elizabeth Richey ’14 continued working on conducting assessments with SARCC staff and campus leaders during the fall of 2013. In addition, the team decided to focus efforts on several key areas: providing overview speeches, recruiting individuals to complete bystander training, assessment, and marketing.
Overview speeches, which can last between 10 and 45 minutes, describe the concept of the Green Dot program, and provide information regarding ways students can get involved. Goodfellow gives these speeches to all of her introduction to sociology courses, and other campus groups, such as resident assistants, have also been told about the initiative.
During the beginning of the fall 2013 semester, 12 students committed four hours to bystander training, during which they were taught about possible peer and personal obstacles to intervention, and had the opportunity to practice specific strategies through role playing. Goodfellow said the program has a goal for training 30 individuals by the end of the academic year. Another training session is planned for the beginning of the spring semester.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get the word out,” Goodfellow said.
Siffin feels that student activism will help the program catch on at LVC. “There’s a Green Dot saying that goes, ‘Not everyone has to do everything, but everyone has to do something,’” she said. She said her peers can “do something” by attending a Green Dot training session, emphasizing the personal rewards she has been able to experience through her own involvement.
“It’s really empowering to know that you can make a difference. Green Dot really gives you specific little things that are easy to do and it gives you the knowledge that you are doing something within the prevention movement. It’s not a big lofty goal, but more that if you do one thing, you can help somebody,” Siffin said.
The work Goodfellow, Siffin, and other students researches have been doing has been recognized outside of the Lebanon Valley College community, too. Siffin, along with Ashleigh Feld ’15, Lacy Phillips ’13, and Carli Weldon ’14 were awarded the “Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award” at the Pennsylvania Sociological Society’s 63rd annual conference for their poster, “Readiness for Sexual Assault Prevention: An Assessment of Lebanon Valley College.”
Due to funding from the Arnold Grant, the students will have the opportunity to present their updated findings at the Eastern Sociological Society’s annual meeting in Baltimore from Feb. 20-23.