This past week, Albion College received an Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grant, which aims to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on college campuses.
The OVW was founded in 1995 and is a part of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Its goal is to support and provide resources for victims of interpersonal violence.
OVW grants provide support through coordinated community responses in order to assist victims through judicial and criminal processes, as well as holding offenders accountable.
“We knew that something that we needed to add to our support for students was an advocate for students who have experienced interpersonal violence,” said Christopher Berry, the college’s director of risk prevention and intervention.
After hearing about other institutions receiving an OVW grant, such as Kalamazoo College last year, Berry and his colleagues knew that they could potentially receive the same funds and work to meet students’ needs.
As a result of the grant, Albion College will see three changes.
Coordinated Response Team
A coordinated response team will be formed by stakeholders at the college, including the Albion Department of Public Safety (ADPS) and Sexual Assault Services of Calhoun County.
As a collective group, they will create a comprehensive education and prevention program on campus. The program will make sure that the college’s policies and practices are the best they can be to help students.
An advocate program will be created on campus to assist interpersonal violence survivors in accessing the resources available to them on campus and in the Albion community.
The program will also help victims request interim measures on campus, report the incident to Albion College and/or law enforcement, accompany them to medical appointments, go through the College judicial process and request a Personal Protective Order.
Two New Staff Members
As required by the grant, two new staff members will be hired to form part of the staff already in place to support interpersonal violence victims. One will be a full-time project coordinator to help start the previously mentioned programs. The other will be a part-time advocate who will work directly with student victims of interpersonal violence through the advocate and Local Sexual Assault Advocates (LSAAS) programs.
Funding for these positions will begin in March 2020 and is when they will be expected to be filled. As of now, staff is hoping to have the advocate program launched in Fall 2020.
These three changes will add to the Green Dot program, counseling services and Local Sexual Assault Advocates (LSAAS) that Albion College already has in place for interpersonal violence awarenss and victim support.
“What this will do is bring together that support into one position so that person [who the student confides in] can be the primary point of contact,” said Berry.
It is important to have someone whose role is dedicated to interpersonal violence awareness and reduction, said Berry, someone who advocates not only for the needs of an individual survivor, but for all survivors.
As of now, Student Development is having conversations with student organizations on campus, such as Student Senate and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), to see what kind of changes can be made.