Back to school season is in full swing this September and so is National Campus Safety Awareness Month. Gender-based violence remains a public health and safety concern on college campuses. A National Institute of Justice review of research concluded that “although prevalence rates vary, they all indicate that a substantial number of college students are sexually assaulted.” Incoming freshmen are at a particularly high risk of victimization during the first few months of school.
The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) remains committed to enhancing prevention and victim support efforts as campuses work to create a healthy and safe environment for all students. OVW’s Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program (Campus Program), support institutions of higher education in implementing comprehensive, coordinated responses to violent crimes on campus through partnerships with victim services providers and justice agencies.
Since its implementation in 1999, the Campus Program has awarded over $163 million in grant awards, which have been used to create and support evidence-based initiatives such as bystander intervention programs and coordinated community responses to sexual assault and domestic violence. Between 2015 and 2017, Campus Program grantees reached nearly 250,000 incoming students through prevention education and convened nearly 1,400 training events that reached over 36,000 campus professionals, including faculty and campus police.
These initiatives have allowed grantees such as the University of California-Irvine to strengthen relationships between campuses and local law enforcement. The University of California-Irvine provides training for university police, campus conduct officers, and the campus disciplinary hearing board on state and federal laws, the dynamics of sexual violence, and the use of technology to stalk and abuse.
Many OVW Campus Program grantees are supporting National Campus Safety Awareness Month by promoting awareness and prevention activities. OVW grantee Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD is hosting a number of events throughout the month of September, including sessions on campus safety and violence prevention, safe dating and healthy relationships, and sexual assault survivor support. Cabrini University and the University of Mary Washington are holding orientations for incoming students that will cover the topics of sexual assault, stalking and dating in domestic violence.
At the 2018 National Sexual Assault Conference, OVW proudly announced 57 grants totaling over $18 million to help campuses respond to the crimes of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as part of its Campus Program, which includes funding for new grantees. OVW has also updated its National Training Standards for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiners, which incorporates recommendations of creating a foundation for training that supports services to specialized groups such as college students and staff.
If you are looking to improve your school’s response to domestic and sexual violence, visit the OVW-funded Center for Changing our Campus Culture, an online clearinghouse that provides resources for colleges and universities on addressing these crimes.
Please join us in keeping our students safe on campus this month and throughout the year.