The University of Mary Washington will receive nearly $300,000 to help victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. The University is among 45 institutions of higher education—one of only two in Virginia– to receive a total of $25 million from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women.
“This grant will go a long way toward helping the University improve in the prevention of and coordinated community response to sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking at UMW,” said Avina Ross, UMW’s sexual assault and prevention specialist.
The funding will enable UMW to create a coordinated community response team made up of UMW staff, student groups and local community partners, including the Fredericksburg Police Department, Fredericksburg Victim Witness Program, Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and Empowerhouse. Over the next three years, the team will receive training that will strengthen coordination and service delivery to victims, according to Ross. In order to improve coordination and policy, the team also will launch a domestic violence fatality review team to evaluate cases where a UMW member dies from domestic violence.
In addition, a training institute for higher education stakeholders will be developed and hosted by UMW. The institute will address best practice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking as well as dynamics and culturally relevant responses to victims of underserved groups. The University also will hire a project coordinator to support the work of the coordinated community response team.
UMW also will establish the Center for Prevention and Advocacy, which will expand confidential services and prevention programs.
“This center will serve the third confidential space on campus for victims and survivors.” said Ross.
The center, anticipated to open in January 2017, will provide peer-facilitated programming such as peer educator and advocate programs as well as a part-time victims’ advocate/case manager who will provide direct services to the UMW community and additional services for its community partners.
“Schools that individualize their response to sexual, dating and domestic violence are better able to meet the unique needs of their student populations, especially underserved groups,” said Bea Hanson, principal deputy director for the Office on Violence Against Women. “Coordinated, comprehensive responses allow college communities to develop sustainable strategies to address these crimes.”
Emory and Henry College, located in Emory, is the only other Justice Department grant recipient in the commonwealth. Other higher education recipients include: Northwest Arkansas Community College; Scripps College (California); Saint Leo University Inc. (Florida); Columbus State University (Georgia); Georgia College and State University, Georgia; Mercy College of Health Sciences (Iowa); Upper Iowa University; Regents of the University of Idaho; Benedictine University (Illinois); Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Manchester University (Indiana); Grambling State University Student Counseling WRC (Louisiana); Springfield Technical Community College (Massachusetts); Wheaton College (Massachusetts); Loyola University Maryland Inc.; Prince Georges Community College (Maryland); Siena Heights University (Michigan); Winona State University (Minnesota); The Curators of the University of Missouri (Rolla); Coahoma Community College (Mississippi); Jackson State University (Mississippi); North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; North Carolina Central University; Doane College (Nebraska); Nebraska Wesleyan University; Saint Anselm College (New Hampshire); Felician University, a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation; Georgian Court University (New Jersey); College of Mount Saint Vincent (New York) Kent State University (Ohio); The University of Toledo (Ohio); The University of Tulsa (Oklahoma); Western Oregon University; Gettysburg College (Pennsylvania); York College of Pennsylvania; Benedict College (South Carolina); University of South Dakota; Austin College (Texas); Texas Lutheran University; Utah State University; President and Fellows of Middlebury College (Vermont); Carroll University (Wisconsin); and Fairmont State University (West Virginia).
The Justice Department grant marks the second federal funding awarded to UMW in a month that is targeted to address sexual assault and prevention. Last month, in partnership with Futures Without Violence, the Office of Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services awarded the University $30,000 over three years to increase awareness of sexual assault on college campuses and implement successful prevention policies.