Photo: Laura Lockwood, Trinity Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC); Jessica Weaver, YWCA Hartford; Samantha McCarthy ’21, Trinity College Green Dot Violence Prevention; and Rayna Dayton-White, Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Director University of St. Joseph’s
This week, Trinity’s Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC) Director Laura Lockwood and Sam McCarthy ’21 joined the YWCA Hartford Region and University of St. Joseph’s Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Director Rayna Dayton-White for a panel discussion for the Week Without Violence, a global initiative that aims to raise awareness and engage action to end a broad spectrum of gender based violence. This year, the YWCA invited local colleges to participate in panel discussions — Melinda Johnson, YWCA’s Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy approached the CHER team and WGRAC and we jumped at the opportunity to connect with Hartford community partners on critical issues of sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.
Panelists agreed that one of the most important pieces of their work is to create a campus and community environment that is open, educated, and resourced when it comes to preventing and responding to sexual misconduct. Laura and Sam both discussed the importance of Green Dot on Trinity’s campus, which is a bystander intervention program that works to prevent violence, specifically focusing on sexual assault, IPV, and stalking. Green Dot operates with the idea that everyone on campus is responsible for changing the culture, and it includes faculty, staff, and administrators in addition to students.
Laura Lockwood pointed out Trinity’s effort to ensure that the Sexual Assault Response Team is representative of the identities of victims and survivors who need to report on campus. She says so many times people don’t believe that violence happens in gay and lesbian communities or outside the gender binary and the typical ways people think about intimate partner violence or sexual assault.
We have photos of abusers in our head we need to get rid of, the myths. And in terms of resources on a small campus, what’s really important to remember is how incredibly hard it is to come forward with this especially if you are a member of the LGBTQI community or other marginalized group. If you’re coming forward you want to see people that look like you or identify with the same gender identity or expression, or practice the same faith as you, are first generation, or otherwise share you background. So one thing we’re doing at Trinity is creating a community of resources at Trinity where the representation is there on our Sexual Assault Resource Team. – Laura Lockwood, Trinity Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC)
Sam discussed her role in organizing Green Dot on campus. She says it started out as a small group of people who care and who speak up, and slowly start bringing others on campus into the work. She hopes to see further connections on campus and in the community to create a network of people across campuses and in the City who support victims or survivors and are committed to ending power-based violence.
I’ve heard students often say, ‘Oh, they could never. I know they’re on this team and part of this organization and they’re so nice when I see them.’ Green Dot helps you understand, especially in a small community, that the way you know someone in public is not the way everyone knows them. I think the most important thing you can say to a survivor is “I believe you.” – Sam McCarthy ’21, Trinity College Green Dot Violence Prevention Program
Rayna Dayton-White of St. Joseph’s also brought up an important point about how reporting operates in a small community. Sometimes, people who consider themselves to be a public figure or who otherwise have a highly visible presence in the campus community may not feel safe to come forward, so fostering connections between campus and community resources is critical.
What about a victim who feels like a public figure on campus? What happens when people say, “How did you let that happen? You have money. You have ways out.” I understand why a Dean or a cabinet member or a student may not want to ‘come out’ on their campus if they’ve been victimized. In Hartford there are ways to get help confidentially out in the community. – Rayna Dayton-White, Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Director University of St. Joseph’s
Thank you to community partners at YWCA Hartford and to panelists Rayna Dayton-White, Laura Lockwood, and Samantha McCarthy ’21 for participating in this panel and continuing to connect Trinity with resources in Hartford.
Special shoutout to Laura for this takeaway message: You are not alone, you’re not to blame, and there’s a way out.
To learn more about Green Dot at Trinity College and resources on campus, visit https://www.trincoll.edu/greendot.