Federal Grant Aims to Reduce Sexual Violence
Sacred Heart University has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to reduce domestic violence, date violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus.
“These comprehensive projects are designed to enhance victim services, implement prevention and education programs and develop and strengthen campus security and investigation strategies to prevent, prosecute and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes on college campuses,” the OVW stated in a release.
Leonora Campbell, SHU’s Title IX coordinator, said the University administration wants to ensure students are aware of these issues and know how to get help in such circumstances. “Everyone on campus needs to be educated on these topics,” she said.
Moreover, the federal government mandates such education. “This grant is helping us meet that mandate,” said Mary Jo Mason, director of Student Wellness Services.
Through the funding, the University has hired a full-time employee to carry out the grant’s planning and implementation over the course of three years. The first year will be dedicated to planning, and the following two years will encompass the execution.
One aim for the grant is to create ongoing prevention and education programs for all students. Other goals are to:
- Implement campaigns against sexual or domestic violence, date violence and stalking
- Improve training for public safety officers, sexual misconduct hearing panel members and faculty, staff and administrators
- Expand the current Culture of Respect Collaborative to include domestic violence, date violence and stalking
- Add community and relevant campus partners to the collaborative
- Prioritize training and education for all campus personnel and students
- Target culturally specific efforts for underserved campus populations
A few years ago, SHU began participating in the Culture of Respect Collaborative, which helps strengthen the University by providing a framework to assess and improve efforts to eliminate sexual violence on campus. The collaborative distributed two surveys regarding sexual assault, one to students and one to staff and faculty. The results will be discussed and addressed through the grant.
“This is really exciting,” said Mason. “It is needed in the community.” The issue is also timely. “Just read the newspaper,” Mason said, referring to the slew of sexual assault allegations that have made national news during the fall and winter months.
“There couldn’t be a more appropriate time to get this grant,” Campbell said. “We want our students and the community at large to know if sexual misconduct/assault happens, they are supported and there are services available. We want survivors to feel they can move forward and finish school. Students and members of our community need to know that this behavior is unacceptable, and individuals will be held accountable for their actions.”
Work on the grant is ongoing. For more information, visit, https://www.justice.gov/ovw/grant-programs#grsa.