$499.9K grant supports colleges’ work to end interpersonal violence

The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women has awarded $499,962 to four colleges of the Worcester Consortium: Clark University, Assumption College, the College of the Holy Cross, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) as part of the government’s Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program.

The Campus Program provides a unique opportunity for institutions of higher education to establish multidisciplinary consortia to combat interpersonal violence on campuses. Efforts are designed to enhance victim services, implement prevention and education programs, and develop and strengthen security and investigation strategies in order to prevent, prosecute and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes on college campuses.

“Sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking have no place anywhere, let alone at our institutions of higher learning. The work being done by Clark, Assumption, Holy Cross, and WPI to reduce such violence on campus is commendable,” said U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.). “This grant will go a long way towards helping the universities and their community partners reduce instances of violence among some of our more at-risk populations.”

Clark University was awarded a similar grant three years ago to help launch their Clark Anti-Violence Education (CAVE) program.  Under that grant, the CAVE program developed and implemented prevention programming for all incoming students and other members of the student body; updated campus policies and procedures regarding sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking; trained key members of the campus community on effectively handling such cases; and provided free intervention and educational programming throughout the year.

The new program builds upon this initial effort by expanding the scope of the programming across all four of the schools represented in this consortium project.  “Our intention from the start was to eventually expand this programming across the Worcester Consortium,” says project co-director and Clark University research assistant professor of psychology Kathleen Palm Reed. “The main impetus for such a coordinated community effort is that our students attend each other’s universities for classes, social functions, and other events, and without a coordinated community response across Worcester, there is no consistent message regarding expected behavior across campuses.”

“College students are among the highest risk groups for being victimized by these types of violence,” says Denise Hines, research assistant professor of psychology and CAVE co-director.  “Sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking occur on all campuses in this country. It is a nationwide problem that we in Worcester are working proactively to prevent.”

Both Hines and Palm Reed, will oversee the consortium effort, with Clark University as the lead institution on this project.  This consortium effort will streamline violence prevention efforts across campuses, which will include:

  • implementing mandatory prevention and education programs for all incoming students about sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking;

  • training campus police to respond effectively in sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking cases; and

  • strengthening each campus’s training programs for campus disciplinary boards to respond effectively to charges of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

These efforts will be done in conjunction with two vital community partners in Worcester, Daybreak Domestic Violence Services and Pathways for Change. Other efforts that will be explored include the development of a consortium-based violence prevention webpage, a social norms campaign, and the development of consortium-based violence prevention materials to be sent to all incoming students and their parents.

The mandatory prevention and education program for incoming students will take a bystander perspective, which teaches students how to recognize and respond safely and effectively to incidents of violence. This type of programming has been effective at reducing the rates of sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking on the Clark University campus by more than 30 percent, while simultaneously increasing help-seeking among victims.  All campuses in this consortium effort will be using or phasing in a program similar to the one used by Clark, which originated at the University of New Hampshire.

Each college program will also be working on prevention programs that are pertinent to their campus.  For example, under this grant, the CAVE program will be focusing on expanding outreach to students who are unlikely to seek help when victimized, including international, LGBT, and heterosexual male students, while Assumption will be focusing on implementing educational programming for their athletes.

The CAVE program was launched in the summer of 2009 at Clark University through generous grants from both the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice, together totaling $474,992.

The Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 and reauthorized by the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000) and then again by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. www.clarku.edu