Ziemann: Change happens together

Columnist and Green Dot Program Coordinator Megan Ziemann shares her story with the organization and makes it known that new students make a difference on campus.

Megan Ziemann

Jan. 20, 2018. It is the second anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March is shaking the nation and freshman me is sitting in an uncomfortably warm room in the Union Drive Community Center, sweating for multiple reasons. 

I am attending the first-ever Green Dot bystander training held at Iowa State University, and the woman who would become my supervisor is reading from a tiny slip of paper.

“I am here for someone else,” she says. “One of my close friends is a survivor of sexual assault and she’s not ready to talk about it yet. I want to become better for her.” 

That tiny slip of paper was mine. It was the product of our very first training exercise — each attendee was asked to anonymously write why they signed up, crumple the paper into a little ball and throw it across the room. Consciously or not, I had tossed mine to the facilitator.

That was two-and-a-half years ago. Today, I am one of three student program coordinators with Iowa State Green Dot. I work with an amazing team of leaders within Student Wellness, and I manage the organization’s social media and outreach efforts. This year, I’m receiving training to become a peer wellness educator so I can better communicate the Green Dot message. 

It’s a marketing major’s dream, and I have my experience as a freshman to thank for it.

Green Dot is a bystander intervention training program that aims to end power-based personal violence in all forms by empowering everyday people to take action. The work began in 2006 when Dr. Dorothy Edwards started a sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence prevention program at the University of Kentucky. The program took off in the years following and was adopted by colleges, high schools and middle schools alike. Today, Green Dot is a nonprofit organization that provides bystander training to individuals all across the world. 

Then, Program Coordinator Jazzmine Brooks brought Green Dot here in the fall of 2017, which happened to be the same semester I started at the university as a freshman. That fall, Brooks and Student Wellness organized a kickoff event on the south lawn of Parks Library. There, students could speak to facilitators, leave their mark on a giant Iowa State logo and eat sugar cookies decorated like little Green Dots.

Being the curious freshman I was, I walked right into the event and cemented my future as a sex educator and violence prevention activist. The picture accompanying this column was taken at that event and features a very small, very excited Megan who had no idea what the program had in store for her. 

It’s difficult to communicate to this incoming class of new students due to the situation in the world right now, but I am being completely and 100 percent genuine when I say you can make a difference as a freshman. What you do with this year is still meaningful. 

Don’t ever think you can’t leave your mark as a new student because I and so many others are living proof you can.

Green Dot may look a bit different this upcoming semester, but we’re still here digitally. This summer we launched a social media campaign aptly called Green Dot Summer where we go through some of the training material, talk about current issues and show you some pictures of campus. 

Face to face or not, we’re with you.

Learn more about Iowa State’s Green Dot mission here and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @isugreendot. We’re so excited to show you what the Cyclone culture of prevention is all about.