As part of the Office on Violence Against Women’s (OVW) year of programming to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, administration officials from the Departments of Justice and Education joined our nationwide university tour to raise awareness of campus sexual assault. Between April 23 and May 1, my colleagues and I visited 11 OVW Campus grantees across the country, including public and private universities, community colleges, historically black colleges, and faith-based and tribal-affiliated institutions. We took part in meetings and listening sessions with campus administrators, campus and local law enforcement, community partners, local service providers, and students. We participated in campus events, like the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona, and toured campus facilities, like the SANE Center at SUNY Stony Brook.
The tour provided OVW, administration officials, and campuses an opportunity to share and learn from each other. We saw many examples of how different prevention and intervention strategies were being implemented to combat sexual assault. At St. John’s University, students involved in ROTC are learning specific strategies to intervene to prevent sexual violence. Gallaudet University is revamping videos and other trainings to be more visual to meet the needs of students who are Deaf or hard of hearing. We also learned about Loyola University’s ongoing dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking training for Campus Police and Campus Disciplinary Boards.
These visits reinforced what OVW has known for years – to effectively address sexual assault on campus it must be informed by and meet the needs of each campus and the students it serves. Each of these campuses has demonstrated a clear commitment to addressing sexual assault on their campus and to developing a strong coordinated community response team. I want to applaud the efforts of North Carolina Central University, United Tribes Technical College, Loyola University, St. John’s University, Gallaudet University, University of Delaware, State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, California State Polytechnic University – Pomona, University of California Santa Barbara, Bergen Community College, and William Paterson University. And I also want to extend my sincerest appreciation to all of OVW’s campus grantees who are committed to making their campus safe for every student.
It is important to highlight what is working, and to recognize all those who are working tirelessly to make our campuses safer. OVW will continue to support all of our campus grantees as they improve prevention and intervention efforts through a coordinated response to sexual assault.