Mercyhurst University recently received a $30,000 grant from Governor Tom Wolf’s “It’s on Us PA” campaign.
The grant was launched in order to help combat sexual violence, through prevention, awareness and response tactics.
Part of the grant will be used to bring Sex Signals to campus, a two-person improv team that addresses interpersonal violence to campus. To educate the student body, the university will be partnering with the Safe Net, as well as the Crime Victims Center, while also training first responders.
“The first responders and hearing board trainings will be focused on training the staff who will most likely be directly involved when a student reports sexual assault,” said Alice Agnew, Title IX coordinator. “This way their response to the situation is knowledgeable, coordinated and compassionate.”
The training will also cover the roles and procedures of each community and campus system, as well as the responsibilities of employees under Title IX and strategies to support victims in their recovery and the empowerment of them as students.
“The goal of the first responder training is to increase understanding of the variety of responses and concerns students may have during and following a sexual assault,” said Agnew.
The hearing board training will be focused on due process, reviewing the evidence and also considering the policy and definitions of sexual assault. More specifically, board members will be trained more thoroughly in rape myths, stereotypes, victim responses, Title IX, the investigation process and other areas so that they may respond effectively and compassionately.
Title IX will also be working with Information Technology to create an interactive database for trend analysis.
As part of spreading awareness throughout the student body, Mercyhurst baseball coach Joe Spano will be guiding his team through Coaching Boys into Men. Through this evidence-based prevention program, Spano will be trained and motivated on how to teach male athletes healthy relationship skills.
Through the web presence approach of the initiative, students will be able to obtain information about their rights, what to do if they, or a friend, has been assaulted, provide information on campus and community resources, bystander intervention and healthy relationships. An anonymous reporting feature will also be an important feature of the site.
An important part of the initiate is the showing of Sex Signals, which uses humor to discuss important and challenging topics, such as sexual assault, without losing focus on the powerful message being sent.