Penn State University is committed to reducing harm within our communities, and we envision a community in which students, faculty, and staff share responsibility and take action to maintain a safe living and learning environment.
To help attain that goal, the University created Stand for State in conjunction with the Green Dot organization, using its comprehensive strategy at Penn State as a tool in addressing sexual misconduct, acts motivated by bias, mental health concerns, and high risk substance use.
Stand for State is the culmination of two years of planning, and on January 25, the initiative officially kicked off at every Penn State campus in the state.
According to University Park, Stand for State promotes bystander intervention and its place in preventing sexual and relationship violence.
Bystander intervention is based on the fact that people make decisions and continue behaviors based on the reactions they receive from others. Bystander intervention encourages others to intervene and promotes a sense of responsibility, which gives a bystander the motivation to step in and take action to prevent sexual misconduct.
Green Dot, which is a national leader in violence prevention education, provided four-day training sessions in June and November, educating a total of about 200 faculty, staff and administrators. The workshops focused on providing participants with the skills to recognize potentially problematic situations, step in and diffuse the situations when appropriate, and seek help when needed.
Jill Thoman, campus health services nurse, attended the Green Dot training session at University Park along with Jim Hart, instructor in Communication Arts & Sciences and Matt Neid, assistant director of programs, unions and students.
They collaborated with other attendees to develop ideas for the week that would stand out and get students intrigued. Toman said she knew that to pique interest on campus, she would have to do something different, which she did by first putting up blank red dots in all campus buildings on Monday, Jan. 25, the official Stand for State kick-off.
"This got students intrigued and asking questions like 'who put them up?' and 'what do the red dots mean?' Even the staff and faculty of PSWS were asking about the dots and wondering if they were supposed to be on the walls," she said.
When asked questions about the dots, Toman told students they would have to be patient and wait to see what happened next. "These dots definitely started a buzz on campus," she explained, which is exactly what Toman was looking for. On Friday, Jan. 29, Toman attached pieces of paper with statistics inside the dots. One example would be 1 in 10 sexual assaults are reported from men.
The following week, the red dots were partially covered by a green dot that said "Stand for State - We Care, We Act, We Are -- #StandforState".
Toman explained that the red dots represented a moment in time where someone chooses to hurt someone physically, mentally, sexually or harass, stalk, bully someone, etc. The green dots represented someone caring enough to step in and make the situation better in any way possible. This could be physically removing someone from a dangerous or threatening situation; calling authorities; or even just checking in on someone to make sure everything is okay.
Going forward, Toman plans to implement bystander intervention workshops in the near future to train students, starting with student leaders and anyone else that is interested.
The goal is to continue to create an atmosphere of awareness and individual responsibility across campus to make Penn State Worthington Scranton a safer and more caring place for everyone.
By Shawnna Meyers
Corporate Communication Intern