Rutgers receives $2 million grant to expand sexual assault services
The grant will be allocated toward services, training and education on all three campuses
Rutgers is now on the receiving end of a $2 million federal grant that will allow the University to expand its support systems for victims of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
Services, training and education will be funded at Rutgers—New Brunswick, Newark and Camden, according to a press release.
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant is the result of a collaborative effort by Rutgers student affairs leaders, researchers, top administrators and students University-wide, according to the press release.
There will be matching funds from throughout the University, resulting in more than $2.5 million total to be allocated toward increasing resources and programs.
The grant is distributed through the N.J. Attorney General’s office, funding efforts such as peer education programs, bystander training, student and faculty training workshops, educational campaigns and evaluating the effectiveness of services and programs, according to the press release.
“The project will allow Rutgers to provide a consistent level of services across the University that are based on best practices, while also ensuring that efforts are tailored to meet the unique needs of each of its diverse campuses,” said Sarah McMahon, associate director of the Rutgers School of Social Work’s Center on Violence Against Women and Children.
The Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) will expand its existing prevention programming and outreach efforts, and will be adding an additional staff member to focus on expanding its peer education initiatives and increase its outreach efforts to non-residential and graduate students, said Laura Luciano, assistant director of VPVA.
The grant will enable collaboration access across the University through an advisory board including vice chancellors, the School of Social Work dean, public safety and athletics representatives, the director of Counseling, Alcohol and Other Assistance Programs and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and senior-level administrators, according to the press release.
“Our university-wide aim will be to develop consistent messaging about creating campuses built on healthy and respectful relations,” said McMahon.
The specifics will be based on extensive discussion with the advisory board and others involved in the project, including students, according to the press release.
Rutgers—Camden will be adding a full-time director of victim assistance in order to provide direct clinical services to students, and a program coordinator will be added to develop and manage educational efforts and advocacy around sexual misconduct.
The Newark campus will hire two new staff members dedicated to victim advocacy and support, and its priorities include creating Unity Theater presentations about sexual violence and resources and a new version of the “We Speak” campaign, according to the press release.
“Many times when sexual assault happens, there are other students near who could speak up but for various reasons don’t,” said Corlisse Thomas, vice chancellor for Student Affairs at Rutgers—Newark. “We are going to address that issue.”
Alexandra DeMatos is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and women's and gender studies. She is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @dematosaa for more.