Kent State's Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services Receives Grants to Launch Several Initiatives
The Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services is the recipient of three grants to launch campuswide awareness and prevention initiatives surrounding sexual harassment and assault, relationship violence and stalking.
The three grants total approximately $450,000. Each grant has a focus that corresponds with the initiatives it will fund on campus. The Violence Against Women Act Campus Programs grant allocates $300,000 over three years for Prevention Education and Awareness. The grant is given through the Office on Violence Against Women.
“One of the big things about this grant is getting education in place that is going out to all incoming students and how we can systematically educate our students and create culture change,” says Jennifer O’Connell, director of the Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services.
The Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services is working with Think About It Campus Clarity, an organization that creates an online curriculum to educate students on how to confront and prevent on-campus problems.
“We are well aware that you can’t just do one thing to educate students,” O’Connell says. “Culture doesn’t change by focusing on just an online curriculum. The grant also looks at other ways to reinforce the message through speakers, activist events, social media and small group workshops.”
Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services also intends to increase emphasis on Green Dot and other bystander and prevention measures. Green Dot is a bystander approach for the prevention of power-based personal violence that relies on the power of cultural and peer influence.
The second grant comes from the Ohio Department of Higher Education's Changing Campus Culture initiative and allocates $15,000 over 18 months for awareness. This grant will be used to create a universitywide awareness campaign that focuses on the collective playing a role in prevention and awareness.
The Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services will work with IdeaBase, a design agency run by Kent State students through the College of Communication and Information that specializes in branding, video and advertising.
“It’s students developing the messages for students, and we believe working with them will create a campaign that resonates and reaches our students,” O’Connell says.
The campaign looks to incorporate the Green Dot message, the online curriculum from Think About It, as well as #KentStateUnited.
The third grant, allocates $135,000 over one year for awareness and response from the Victims of Crime Act.
“The Victims of Crime Act Grant was a renewal, which we received last January and then again in October,” O’Connell says. “The grant is for support services for anyone who has been victimized by sexual assault and raising awareness on campus around sexual assault and the Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services.”
Stephanie Orwick is the full-time support services coordinator for which the grant provides funding.
“Anytime we receive a notice that a student was assaulted or was involved with intimate partner violence or stalking, Stephanie will reach out in the least intrusive way to make the student feel empowered to make the decision that’s right for them,” O’Connell says.
Orwick and a graduate assistant, whose position is funded through the grant, work to increase awareness across campus about the Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence and Support Services, as well as information about sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking.
“We want to make sure that we can reach out to all students and improve our cultural competency, no matter what they represent or how they identify,” O’Connell says.