Nov 18, 2011

Your Brother’s Keeper

Brotherhood Phi Delt Volunteers
Your Brother’s Keeper

As a Phi Delt, our open motto translated literally means “One Man is no Man.”  We, as good brothers interpret this to mean “We enjoy life by the help and society of others.”  What does our open motto signify in today’s fast paced, tech-savvy, internet craved society where instant gratification has become the norm?

For the past 8 years I have been privileged to help support and develop leadership potential in young men and women involved in Greek Life as they navigate their college experience.   I am amazed at the dedication, insight, and passion the Millennial Generation has surrounding civic engagement and community service initiatives.  This is a generation largely characterized by teamwork, achievement, modesty, good conduct and optimism.  While these are very noble attributes, I feel more attention and awareness should be devoted during the undergraduate fraternal experience on what it means to be your “Brother’s Keeper.”

Though we are a diverse group of men committed to the cardinal principles of friendship, sound learning, and more rectitude, our most important asset is our bond and commitment to one another.   One avenue to develop and build upon our bond is to be an active bystander and approach your brother or friends when you see a potentially dangerous or harmful situation arise.

I feel the answer to accountability concerning the safety of your brothers, friends and guests is Green Dot.  Green Dot is a strategy to approach and address power-based personal violence through the lens of peer and cultural influence.  The foundation of this program seeks to empower individuals to make a choice to intervene or prevent high-risk situations resulting in a reduction of violence.  Power-based personal violence includes Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, Stalking Violence and other uses of force, treat, intimidation, or harassment.

Visualize for a moment a map of the US with small Red Dots penetrating across America on a computer generated screen.  Each Red Dot represents the threat of violence, or choice to tolerate, justify or perpetuate a high risk situation.  This could be a failure to watch after a friend at an off-campus party who has had too much to drink, or encouraging a brother to hook up with a first-year woman during Orientation Week who is intoxicated and very vulnerable.  A red dot is when someone sees something going on that they know is high risk, and they decide to walk away without intervening.  A red dot is someone using words to threaten or intimidate another person.

Now, visualize adding Green Dots to overpower and outnumber the bleeding red on the screen.  These Green Dots represent an individual choice at any moment to make our community safer.  Specifically, a Green Dot is any behavior, word, action, choice or attitude that communicates an utter intolerance for sexual violence, partner violence, and stalking. A Green Dot could be looking out for your friend at a party, making a conscious decision before going out to stay with your group of friends to ensure everyone gets home safely.  A Green Dot could be getting your chapter trained on Green Dot prevention (for more information on Bystander Intervention programs, please contact Luke Benfield, Director of Education, at General Headquarters).

I am passionate about the Green Dot program because I want to pave the way for future generations to live in a safer and less violent society.  I also do not want young adults to make the same mistake I did in college and not intervene as a bystander for fear of retaliation or embarrassment.  We can’t afford to stand by when 1 in 4 women on college campuses have experienced a form of sexual misconduct.

The green dot program doesn’t prescribe what you do, it just asks you to do something.  It is complete silence, complete inaction, complete apathy that allows the perpetration of violence – red dots- to continue.  Anything to combat this inaction is going to be a step in the right direction.  There are three major categories of reactive green dots you can do – the three D’s.

  1. Direct: This is a more confrontational approach, though it doesn’t necessarily mean yelling at anyone or even calling anyone out.  Just asking if everything is ok is direct. This approach just means you are directly interacting with the people involved in the situation and addressing that you are concerned.
  2. Distract: This approach’s focus is diversion.  It can be very non-confrontational or you could walk right up to the situation to do something.  If you see a situation and can think of a way to divert the attention of the people in the situation, distract is the perfect option.  Sometimes all a situation needs to diffuse is a little diversion.
  3. Delegate: When you recognize a red dot situation and you may be uncomfortable saying something yourself or you feel like someone else is better suited to handle it (e.g., a friend, public safety, an RA,bartender), delegate is a solid option.  Here you are asking someone else to help in the situation.  The green dot is just as big if you get someone else to do it.  It also has the additional benefit of making someone else aware of what is going on and that something needs to be done.

Gentlemen, we as Phi Delt’s are called to be our Brother’s Keeper as men of honesty, integrity and civility committed to helping keep our community safe.  As Bill Rago (Danny Devito) from the 1994 Comedy The Renaissance Man famously quotes, “The choices you make dictate the life you live.”  “To thine own self be true.”  Proud to be a Phi.

Brother Clay Coleman is from the Texas Gamma Chapter and graduated from Southwestern University in May of 2004. He is the Director of Student Activities and Greek Life at Washington and Lee University. Before moving to Virginia, he worked at his alma mater, Southwestern University, as the Assistant Director of Residence Life. Clay graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006 with a Masters Degree in Educational Administration. He has six years of experience working in student affairs and has served as a Faculty Facilitator at ELI, Leadershape, and the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute.

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