Saint Mary’s College received a three-year, $299,893 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women in time for October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month to create an on-campus program educating students about sexual violence.
“At Saint Mary’s College, we educate our students to make a difference in the world. That preparation must include education on how women can protect themselves from becoming a victim of violence, and how to deal with the aftermath of an assault,” Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Johnson said. “Our expectation is this on-campus program will serve as a model for other colleges, women’s or otherwise.”
Although Saint Mary’s College crime statistics are “very low,” according to a College press release, the program takes into account the high prevalence of sexual assault among college women — one in six women is sexually assaulted during their lifetime and college students are four times as likely to be victims.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of this program, Saint Mary’s College will cooperate with S-O-S of Madison Center, the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office, the prosecutor office’s Special Victims Unit and the St. Joseph County Police Department, the press release said.
According to the press release, the project aims to achieve seven goals: To create a Saint Mary’s College Coordinated Community Response Team, to establish a mandatory education program for incoming students, to enhance the College’s training program for campus security, to provide the campus with disciplinary boards for appropriate training, to provide the College community with increased educational opportunities, to enhance the victim services available to Saint Mary’s College students and to enhance the security on campus.
In addition to cooperating with numerous offices on campus, Saint Mary’s College will also coordinate with organization from outside the campus, Johnson said, and plans to hire an assistant director for the program.
The government grant will be an important step to assure increased safety and security on campus and in the local community, Johnson said.