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Loyola, coalition of Baltimore-area colleges win $750K grant from Department of Justice to strengthen sexual violence response and prevention

| By Nick Alexopulos

Loyola University Maryland and nine other Baltimore-area colleges and universities together have won a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to generate new strategies to prevent, respond to, investigate, and hold offenders accountable for sexual assault and dating violence, and strengthen trauma-informed, victim services on campus and in the community.

The Baltimore Area Higher Education Coalition against Sexual Violence comprises Loyola, the Community College of Baltimore County, Coppin State University, Goucher College, McDaniel College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Stevenson University, Towson University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. More than 125,000 students attend and frequently travel among these institutions. The community partners on the project are local victim service provider TurnAround Inc., the Baltimore City Police Department, and the Baltimore Collegetown Network.

The coalition’s goal is to further develop a comprehensive, coordinated community response that focuses on a survivor-centered, trauma-informed approach to students who experience sexual assault and dating violence.

“Our organizations are united against sexual assault and dating violence and committed to creating a safer, more secure environment for college students,” said Katsura Kurita, J.D., assistant vice president for student development and Title IX deputy coordinator for students at Loyola. “We will make exponentially more progress by working together along with our campus partners on vital initiatives that will improve victim services and prevent future violence on our campuses and in our region, and there is an incredible opportunity for our efforts to have an even greater impact with the support of this new funding from the Department of Justice.”

Once the grant funding becomes available on Oct. 1, 2016, the 10 schools and three community partners will pursue the following objectives:

  • Increase awareness of and access to survivor services on and off campus;
  • Assess and enhance the capacity of campus response teams to address sexual violence;
  • Develop videos highlighting prevention efforts, bystander solutions, and SAFE exam options;
  • Provide comprehensive survivor-centered, trauma-informed trainings for campus constituencies. Trainings will include specific information on serving LGBT students and students of color; and
  • Develop an interactive mobile application for all students enrolled in coalition schools that provides relevant and timely information no matter which coalition school campus they may be visiting.

The coalition hopes to build on the extensive set of response, prevention, and training initiatives already in place. All 10 schools offer survivors on- and off-campus counseling, reporting options, academic accommodations, housing accommodations, employment accommodations, campus safety accommodations, and transportation to the emergency room. The schools have signed internal and external memorandums of understanding demonstrating a commitment to providing a coordinated community response to sexual violence. They hold mandatory prevention and education programming for new and transfer students during orientation; the programming introduces students to services on and off campus, gives notice of rights and options, explains the disciplinary processes, and provides information about bystander intervention. In addition, each campus has a Sexual Assault Response Team that meets regularly to discuss protocols and procedures to respond to incidents of sexual violence.

Loyola will receive and administer all grant funds for the coalition over the course of the three-year project. Kurita will serve as project director; Melissa Lees, sexual violence prevention, education, and response coordinator in the Women’s Center at Loyola, will serve as grants administrator. Loyola’s controller’s office and office of research and sponsored programs will provide the necessary infrastructure, support, and oversight for appropriate administration of the $750,000 in grant funds.

The grant was awarded by the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women in the “Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking on Campus” category. The Baltimore coalition received the maximum award total available in this category.

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