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Grant to fund new positions to support victims of sexual violence

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Credit: Courtesy of The Attorney General’s Office

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Credit: Courtesy of the Attorney General’s Office

Three new positions are in line to be created to support Ohio State’s efforts to combat sexual violence.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the university was awarded nearly $200,000 of grant funds that will go toward sexual assault victim support for OSU students.

The funds were part of $1.2 million awarded with the goal of assisting victims of sexual assault on campuses in Ohio by “providing additional programs, promoting education and awareness, and creating partnerships with community-based victim service agencies,” according to an Ohio Attorney General’s Office press release.

At OSU, the grant funds will allow for the creation of two new full-time positions in the Sexual Civility and Empowerment Program within the Student Life Student Advocacy Center.

One staff member position is expected to provide support to those involved in incidents of sexual assault, while the second position is expected to provide “institutional and academic-based support” to help students deal with sexual-assault-related issues that might lengthen their time to degree completion, said Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs.

OSU currently has two sexual violence support coordinators within Student Life’s Student Advocacy Center.

The third position is expected to be a part-time trauma counselor that will work through Mount Carmel Hospital’s Crime and Trauma Assistance Program. This counselor will work with OSU students, providing trauma care and a “long-term continuum of multi-faceted counseling and therapy care” that will continue past graduation, Isaacs said.

“The grant will significantly increase the capacity of the university to provide support for students,” he said. “And these funds will assist in advancing the commitment Ohio State made as part of Buckeyes ACT to increase the number of advocates in the Office of Student Life to support students.”

Buckeyes ACT, announced earlier this academic year, is a university initiative to enhance awareness, prevention training and support counseling in an effort to combat sexual violence on campus.

DeWine said in his office’s release that “sexual assault happens much too often on university campuses.”

“These grants will help increase awareness of the issue and ensure that assistance is closer to victims by strengthening campus and community efforts to help them recover,” he said.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office announced the campus sexual assault victims grant availability during the summer of last year, with applications being sent out to Ohio universities and service-based agencies in mid-Fall, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Annual funding for grants aiming to support crime victim services comes from money allocated to states through the federal Victims of Crime Act.

“This past year, Congress made a substantial increase in funding and Attorney General DeWine decided to devote part of that increase to specifically address the issue of sexual assaults that may occur on college campuses and providing victim services to those people,” Tierney said.

The goal of specifically outlining funds dedicated to supporting victims of sexual assault on campuses is to help ensure those victims have access to the same crime victim services as other victims of different crimes elsewhere in the community, he said.

Tierney added that although entities are free to innovate their own ideas for how grant money would be used, the main restriction to program funding is that support services be victim-oriented, as opposed to preventative programming, which is a guideline pursuant to federal VOCA restrictions.

Other Ohio schools that received grants included Bowling Green State University, the University of Cincinnati and Miami University, according to the attorney general’s release. Columbus State Community College plans to put about $140,000 of grant money toward two new victim advocates and support staff.

No timetable is set regarding the release of grant funds to the university, but Tierney said the Attorney General Office’s goal is to “get these programs up and running as soon as it’s feasible for all the entities.”

“This is an area of need, it’s an area where the public has an interest in the issue of sexual assaults that may occur on campuses,” he said. “This is something that is important to the attorney general.”

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