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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

St. Joe’s receives grant for sexual assault prevention

Additional resources can be found on the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) website. GRAPHIC: KAITLYN PATTERSON ’20/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s received a $30,000 grant from Gov. Tom Wolf as part of the “It’s On Us PA” campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

The “It’s On Us PA” campaign is part of a nationwide movement that “brings together college and university presidents, superintendents, administrators, teachers, students, families and community mem- bers to reframe the conversation around sexual violence and pledge to be part of the solution,” according to Wolf ’s website.

Mary-Elaine Perry, Ph.D., Title IX coordinator, said the grant, which St. Joe’s previously received in 2018, will be put towards further education on sexual assault prevention and increasing awareness of resources available to students who have experienced sexual misconduct.

“One [goal] is to better inform students about services and resources, on campus and off, and how to prevent sexual assault,” Perry said. “We work with a number of community partners, but our students aren’t using those services.”

Perry said St. Joe’s has partnerships with the district attorney’s office, local police departments and victim service centers, and she hopes to create informational videos to explain how students can utilize those resources.

“We would use [the videos] during training, and we would put them on our support website so that if students say, ‘What would happen if I talk to a police officer?’ they can go on there and get a sense of that,” Perry said. “Hopefully they’ll feel a little bit better informed and maybe choose to use some of those resources.”

In collaboration with the Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, Perry said they will start a “permission slip” program, in which students reporting sexual assault will be able to indicate whether they would like the center, or other resources, to contact them.

“Sometimes that’s easier for people to have the service call you,” Perry said. “[Students] can check off which agencies they would want to speak with and sign it, so then I have that in writing. If they say ‘yes’ to victim service center, I can scan it and email it to them. It’s just a way of connecting our students with the services that are available to them.”

In addition to new programming, Perry said St. Joe’s will also work on updating existing resources. For example, the online report form will be changed to allow victims of sexual misconduct to submit reports anonymously.

Updates will also be made to resource guides and informational materials, such as the Rape Education and Prevention Program (REPP) stickers posted in bathrooms around campus. Perry said they will be able to replace old stickers and put new ones in bathrooms that did not previously have them.

Genna Kindelberger ’22, social media and communications coordinator for REPP, said the grant will help REPP spread awareness of their goals on campus.

“What we’ve struggled with in the past as an organization has been getting our name out and letting people know that this is something that St. Joe’s is working towards,” Kindelberger said. “It has been really helpful to have the grant, and moving forward continuing to have it, a lot of great things can come from it.”

Along with these updates, Perry said there will be a poster series put up around campus to draw attention to the issue.

“When you see the same stuff year after year, you just kind of lose track of it,” Perry said. “We just want to make sure [the information] is current and up to date. We want to spruce it up a little bit so people will take notice again.”

The grant will also be used for more training opportunities, such as retraining faculty and staff in bystander intervention and offering an online course to club athletes. The course will be offered through EverFi, the same organization St. Joe’s uses for drug and alcohol training.

Angie Nagle, assistant director of Campus Recreation, said offering this training to club sport athletes will be a great opportunity to provide additional support to a large student population.

“There are 700 club athletes on campus, so there are more club athletes on campus than varsity sport athletes,” Nagle said. “It’s really important that we’re providing education and training around issues that are relevant to athletes in general.”

Nagle said student athletes can benefit from this added support, as well as the drug, alcohol and other trainings they are given.

“It’s another opportunity to enhance the club sport program and provide additional training,” Nagle said. “We give them additional training around concussions. We give them additional training around budget management. This is another opportunity to give them additional education.”

For Perry, the main goal of these initiatives is to take a preventative approach to sexual assault on campus.

“Sadly enough, this is an important issue on our campus, and we want students to know how to prevent this from happening,” Perry said. “Any one of us can be a victim. Any one of us can prevent it from happening.”

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