UMW Receives $300K Grant for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Programs

by | Oct 12, 2016 | Schools & Education

By Susan Larson. File photo copyright Fredericksburg.Today

The University of Mary Washington will use a $300,000 grant from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women to improve the prevention of and response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking at UMW.

Several projects will be funded.

The university will create a coordinated community response team made up of UMW staff, student groups, and local community partners, including the Fredericksburg Police Department, Fredericksburg Victim Witness Program, Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and Empowerhouse. “Over the next three years, the team will receive training that will strengthen coordination and service delivery to victims,” said Avina Ross, UMW’s sexual assault and prevention specialist. A project coordinator will be hired.

The coordinated community response team will also will launch a domestic violence fatality review team, to evaluate cases where a UMW member dies from domestic violence. This is a public health approach supported by Virginia Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, UMW Public Information Officer Marty Morrison said.

A training institute for higher education stakeholders will be developed and hosted by UMW. The institute will address best practice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking, as well as dynamics and culturally relevant responses to victims of underserved groups, according to Ross.

“The dynamics are prevalence, trends, patterns, experiences of victims from underserved groups, including LGBTQ, Black/African American, Hispanic, persons with disabilities, and males who are less likely (than females) to seek services and to report domestic and sexual violence,” Morrison said.

UMW also will establish the Center for Prevention and Advocacy, which will expand confidential services and prevention programs. “This center will serve as the third confidential space on campus for victims and survivors.” Ross said.

The two other confidential spaces are the Talley Center for Counseling Services and the Student Health Center. A confidential space is a place where students can receive services confidentially, without having to report to the Office of Title IX or law enforcement, Morrison said.

The center, anticipated to open in January 2017, will provide peer-facilitated programming, and a part-time victims’ advocate/case manager who will provide direct services to the UMW community and additional services for its community partners.

“Schools that individualize their response to sexual, dating and domestic violence are better able to meet the unique needs of their student populations, especially underserved groups,” said Bea Hanson, principal deputy director for the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women.

UMW is among 45 institutions of higher education nationwide — one of only two in Virginia — to receive a total of $25 million from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women. The other Virginia school is Emory and Henry College, in Emory.

This is the second time federal funding has been awarded to UMW within the last month for addressing sexual assault and prevention. In September 2016, the Office of Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with Futures Without Violence, awarded UMW $30,000 over three years to increase awareness of sexual assault on college campuses and implement successful prevention policies.

These grants are not related to the suit filed against UMW by Feminists United in 2015, Morrison said. “We applied for funding to improve and expand our response and prevention efforts on campus,” Morrison said.

UMW “Interested in the Concept” of Statewide Network to Address Campus Assaults (September 3, 2015)

Feminists United UMW Calls Hurley Statements ‘Galling and Untrue’ (June 15, 2015)

UMW President Refutes Feminist Majority Foundation (June 8, 2015)

Suit Claims UMW Ignored Sexual Harassment Reports (May 9, 2015)

UMW Men’s Rugby Club Suspension A National Conversation (March 26, 2015)

Complaint Claims University Where Student Was Killed Failed To Act On Relentless Yik Yak Threats (HuffPost College, May 7, 2015)

Virginia Wesleyan College Demands Rape Victim’s Entire Sexual History (August 9, 2015, on The Huffington Post)

Making it harder to punish campus rapists won’t help stop campus rape (August 10, 2015 in The Washington Post)

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