DOJ Grant Designed to Strengthen Women's Center's Education and Violence Prevention Services
Old Dominion has received a $300,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to fund a Gender-Based Violence Prevention Project on campus. ODU was one of only 22 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the highly competitive funding.
The award, from the DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women, will provide resources to strengthen the education and violence prevention services of the Women's Center's Sexual Assault Free Environment program (SAFE). The project aims to engage all students through diverse modes of delivery, including an online education module for orientation, and training workshops for student groups and organizations.
According to ODU's Dennis Gregory, associate professor of educational foundations and leadership and a national expert on campus safety who is serving as principal investigator of the grant, the project will focus on men and women as leaders to model positive behavior to prevent sexual violence by using the bystander education model.
Project director Joann Bautti, assistant director of the Women's Center, added that the project will also include ad campaigns and other forms of media to reinforce the message that safety and positive behavior are the ways to eliminate types of sexual violence.
"I'm proud to be a part of an institution that is forward thinking," said Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for student engagement and enrollment services. "This grant offers a great opportunity for education as a proactive tool in the prevention of violence against women."
As part of the project, Bautti and Gregory will work closely with the ODU Police Department, Norfolk Police Department, Response Sexual Assault Support Services of the YWCA, the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and a broad cross-section of on-campus departments.
"It is a dream come true to have the resources to expand education for our students," Bautti said. "For those of us who work in the areas of student safety, gender-based violence and victim advocacy, we know that reaching every student with primary prevention education is essential to catalyzing a culture of care and respect at ODU."
According to Gregory, "Having studied and completed research on the threats existing on and around a university campus, we know that gender-based violence and related hazards are among the chief concerns about which education and prevention are critical. We are excited to have the opportunity to educate and help keep ODU students safer."
The university's Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART), chaired by Bautti, and of which Gregory is a member, will serve as the central working body to expand the gender-based violence training to faculty and staff on campus and strengthen partnerships with key departments.
"We are fortunate to have strong on- and off-campus partners on the SART, and the grant gives us the opportunity to focus our efforts on responding more comprehensively to issues surrounding gender-based violence," Bautti said.
"Of course, the most important partners on campus are students," emphasized Wendi White of the Women's Center, who serves as the interpersonal violence prevention coordinator under the grant. "This grant will empower them to take an active role in ending gender-based violence and transforming the culture that keeps it alive."