For the third year in a row, Mercyhurst University has received the Pennsylvania “It’s On Us” grant to continue the university’s work to help spread awareness and end sexual assault and violence.
It is the only state grant that is dedicated specifically to addressing sexual assault on college campuses.
Gov. Tom Wolf launched the “It’s on Us” grant in a statewide campaign that he created on Jan. 29, 2016.
Wolf invited education leaders and all people of Pennsylvania to play a role in ending sexual violence, building off of the national “It’s On Us” movement.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education website states that the Pennsylvania grant and movement “brings together college and university presidents, superintendents, administrators, teachers, students, families, and community members to reframe the conversation around sexual violence and pledge to be part of the solution.”
Mercyhurst also has an empowerment and prevention project in collaboration with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, the Erie Police Department, the Crime Victim Center of Erie County and other resources that can aid sexual assault awareness.
The grant provided the school with $300,000 that will help continue the work that Title IX Coordinator, Alice Agnew has helped implement at Mercyhurst.
According to a news release by the university, the money has been used “to engage campus speakers, train employees and hearing boards, issue the campus climate survey and offer the Coaching Boys Into Men program, among others.”
In a news release by the university, Agnew credits the support of grants director Matt Sanfilippo and project manager Ariel Dodick for their work in “implementing the grant elements and encouraging the climate change necessary to reduce sexual violence on campus.”
Agnew has taken multiple steps on campus to make sure that sexual assault awareness is spread throughout campus.
According to a press release by Mercyhurst University, one of the steps will be to encourage students to use a new app called “UASK” that will provide students with resources for sexual assault and dating violence protection, reporting and bystander intervention.
Agnew believes that this outlet will be more effective than the Mercyhurst Portal for reporting incidents because of the accessibility of and time spent on cell phones for college students.
Mercyhurst has also begun a new program this year for students called Step-Up.
Step-Up will be giving specific training to help prevent sexual violence for the Mercyhurst community.
Students have also expressed interested in creating a student-organized anti-sexual assault club to help raise awareness and empowerment among peers.