Grant increases protection on campus

Marina Boyle, Staff writer

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Mercyhurst University was awarded a generous three-year grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women that will continue through September 2020. The grant will allow Mercyhurst to implement better prevention education and victim services, as well as increase the integration of services between campus and community victim service providers.

The grant requires campuses to focus on the issues of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. This is the first year of the long-term initiative, designed as a planning year, to draw in information and opinions from the campus community. The second year will be dedicated to implementation, while the third year will focus on sustainability of programs and services.

Ariel Dodick, MPA, is the project manager of the Mercyhurst All-Campus Prevention Project. She discussed the benefits that this project will bring to the Mercyhurst community.

“The Coordinated Community Response Team and I are excited and dedicated to using this grant to its fullest potential for the Mercyhurst community,” said Dodick. “It will allow us to offer more programs and trainings to students and staff alike, as well as enhance current resources and services for anyone affected by sexual violence. We have already seen a positive response from the Mercyhurst community with their desire to offer support throughout the span of the grant.”

Dodick has recently met with many student groups on campus, including the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club, the Mercyhurst International Students Organization, Social Justice Coalition Club and the Halluci Nation Club. Students attending the meeting had the opportunity to complete a short, four-item questionnaire that permitted added input to the grant’s strategic planning process. Students’ needs and opinions will be integral to the strategic plan that is put in place over the next three years.

The grant will also look to improve programs that currently deal with sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking prevention and bystander intervention. It is anticipated that the grant will result in a greater variety of educational program offerings.

Freshman Intelligence Studies major Nathan Brand is excited about the grant.

“I am looking forward to seeing the improvements that this grant can make on campus,” said Brand. “Sexual assault is such a prevalent issue, and anything we can do to help end the American epidemic of sexual violence is absolutely essential.”

Students interested in learning more about the grant, or who have ideas to contribute to grant activities, are encouraged to contact Ariel Dodick at adodick@mercyhurst.edu or visit her office at Preston 126.

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