Grant to coordinate advocacy for victims of sexual assault

Publication Date

Union College was awarded a competitive three-year grant of $300,000 from the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) to augment and coordinate campus-wide and community programs aimed at reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The grant will support the hiring of a director for a project titled “A Better Union: A Community-Wide Approach to the Prevention of Power-Based Personal Violence.” The project director will lead a Coordinated Community Response Team and be an active presence in executing prevention-based activities for students, faculty and staff.

Goals of the project include further coordinating response to reported crimes, enhancing education and advocacy for prevention, and making resources more accessible to all members of the Union community.

“The OVW grant competition is extremely competitive and I am proud that we have been awarded this grant,” said Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “I want to thank Jennifer Lykins, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life; Mary Simeoli, Title IX coordinator; and Ryan Ribiero, director of community standards for their hard work in putting together this submission. This grant is an opportunity for our campus to do some critical work internally and externally with community partners around this very important topic.”

A major focus will be on peer training, according to Lykins. “One of the main components of the grant is a comprehensive bystander intervention program,” she said. “Having peers as part of the program, making those conversations more realistic, is important to prevention.”

The grant also will focus on coordinating and promoting advocacy services on-campus and with local community and law enforcement agencies. Key external partners include the Schenectady Police Department, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, YWCA of Eastern New York, and the New York State Police Campus Sexual Assault Unit.

“We already work with all of these agencies, but this project will bring us together as one team to make these resources readily available,” Lykins said.

“This grant is about promoting advocacy services,” she said. “Whether someone chooses to report to Title IX or Planned Parenthood or the YWCA or the police, they can have a 24-hour advocate to talk through their options. This really makes those resources more available and clear.”

The College has extensive programming around sexual assault and other forms of violence particularly for members of fraternities and sororities, student athletes and incoming first-year students.

“There is programming happening in many different areas,” said Lykins. “This grant will give us the time, resources and structure to have a consistent, holistic campus-wide approach.”

The Office on Violence Against Women, part of the federal Department of Justice, provides federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.