Richmond - VCU to share three-year DOJ grant for sexual assault prevention and response programs

January 14, 2014

The U.S. Department of Justice has made a three-year, $499,984 grant to the University of Richmond to develop programs in conjunction with Virginia Commonwealth University that will educate and train students, law enforcement officers and first responders about preventing and responding to sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking.

The funds will enable each campus to hire a staff member devoted to violence prevention education and development of coordinated community responses to reported cases. The campuses will develop educational programs, including bystander training and awareness campaigns, train campus judicial and disciplinary boards, and certify training of law enforcement officers and first responders of both campus police forces and those in Richmond and Henrico County.

“Another goal of the grant is to form better partnerships with community organizations such as Safe Harbor and the YWCA,” said Dan Fabian, associate dean, coordinator of substance abuse education and deputy Title IX coordinator at Richmond.

Under-reporting of violence or threats to women and LGBTQ students on college campuses is common, said Fabian. “This grant will allow us to expand educational efforts on campus and further strengthen the response of the campus community to victims”. 

Fabian and Kerry Fankhauser, associate dean of Westhampton College and Title IX deputy coordinator, will lead the project at Richmond. At VCU, Tammi Slovinsky, sexual assault prevention coordinator in the Wellness Resource Center, will be project lead.

“The Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) Campus Grant Program is increasingly competitive,” Slovinsky said. “The UR-VCU public private partnership makes us unique, in addition to innovative projects including LGBTQ advocacy and outreach and joint support groups for student survivors of sexual assault in one central location."

At Richmond, current sexual assault prevention programs include Spiders Speak Up, a bystander education program; the Clothesline Project; It Ends Now, a one-day show of support for victims; Take Back the Night; The White Ribbon Campaign; an orientation session for freshmen, and others.

Currently, VCU conducts training and education on Title IX, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking to students attending orientation programs and introductory university life courses, resident assistants and first-year athletes. VCU plans to use funding to expand education to all incoming students, plus additional training for VCU's campus hearing board and law enforcement. Funds will also support a full-time LGBTQ education and advocacy position to focus on violence in the LGBTQ student community.

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