Department of Justice Seal

Attorney General Prepared Remarks

Vanderbilt University Event Grant to Combat
Violence Against Women on Campus
August 16, 2001

Good morning! Over the next few weeks, millions of Americans will prepare to send their children off to our nation's colleges and universities.

This can be a daunting time for both parents and students. Parents are worried about sending their children off on their own, often far from parental supervision.

Freshmen students are worried about fitting in, making friends, and adjusting to college life in general. And older students can still be anxious about tough courses and tougher professors.

As a former business law professor at Southwest Missouri State University, and as a parent myself, I'm familiar with the rhythms of this late August angst.

But what many parents and students often don't stop to worry about is crime on campus.

That's because our college campuses are among the safest places in America. But crimes do occur on campus. And, though the jury is still out on exact numbers, we know that women on campus are at risk for sexual assault, including date rape, and stalking.

We also know that sexual assault and other violent crimes against women often go unreported on campuses because victims aren't aware of the services or recourse available to them.

Through our Violence Against Women Office, the Department of Justice is working to assist colleges and universities in increasing awareness about crime on campus and helping victims to come forward and obtain the services they need.

I'm pleased to announce that today the Justice Department is awarding over $360,000 to Vanderbilt University to continue to address the problem of crimes against women on campus. This brings to almost $800,000 the total funding awarded to Vanderbilt over the past three years under our Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus program.

Under this program, colleges and universities across the country are working to prevent violence against college women by increasing awareness, enhancing victim services, increasing security, and strengthening policies regarding the investigation of cases of domestic abuse, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on campuses.

With Justice Department funding, Vanderbilt University's "Project Safe" has served almost 3,000 victims and trained students, staff, and faculty members on the dynamics of violence against women, how to respond to victims, and campus services.

It's also worked to educate fraternity pledges on violence against women and to encourage victims to "Speak Out" about their abuse.

In fact, I understand your program here has been so successful that it's recruited a number of male students.

I'm told one of the Vandy football players who enrolled in a course taught by your Violence Against Women staff has become so involved in your efforts he's pledged to double membership in your "Men Promoting a Solution" program by recruiting other football team members.

Outreach to men on campus is just one of Vanderbilt's many accomplishments. You've also trained sorority sisters to provide outreach and advocacy to women in their sororities; trained student health center physicians, nurses, and emergency room staff on how to better respond to women victims; and developed University protocols on dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

I'm proud of the work you're doing here to address violent crimes against women on campus and to assist victims. And I'm pleased that the Department of Justice is able to support your important efforts.

Our support for programs to prevent campus crime is just one part of the Justice Department's overall effort to address violence against women.

Since the first Violence Against Women legislation was enacted in 1994, we've awarded millions of dollars to help law enforcement agencies implement arrest policies for batterers, help women and children in rural areas, prevent violence against women on college campuses, and provide civil legal assistance to women crime victims.

Overall, we've awarded grants totaling more than a billion dollars to improve our nation's response to violence against women.

Since becoming Attorney General earlier this year, I've made addressing violence against women a priority for the Department. I'm committed to building on our legislative legacy and the accomplishments of the thousands of victims advocates throughout our nation who have brought the problem of domestic violence out into the open and who have made tremendous progress in ensuring justice for women and in holding offenders more accountable.

As a result of this momentum:

- Every state now has laws requiring police, prosecutors, and judges to treat domestic violence as a crime, rather than a quote "family problem" unquote.

- It's easier now for victims to obtain civil protection orders to prevent future abuse.

- There are many more shelters and other services across the nation to assist battered women and children.

- And in many communities, law enforcement, prosecutors, the courts, victim advocates, and service providers are working together to build comprehensive efforts to protect domestic violence victims, while - at the same time - holding batterers accountable for their abusive behavior.

I thank you, again, for the part you've played in this progress and for all you are doing to protect women against crime on campus and to provide services for victims.'

I hope the grant funds I've announced today will further your progress. And I wish you all a successful - and crime-free - academic year. Thank you very much.