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University to improve services for rape victims

By : Cait Anastis

A $192,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will help the University improve the way the campus community and area police respond to victims of sexual assault.

One of 31 proposals nationwide selected for funding in 2004 by the federal department’s Office on Violence Against Women, the grant will help create a cohesive, coordinated response to sexual assault and rape by improving services and streamlining communication between agencies on and off campus. A new specialist will be hired in early 2005 to coordinate those efforts.

“This grant allows the University Counseling Center to hire a full-time, twelve-month sexual assault specialist to assist with project initiatives, work collaboratively with offices on and off campus, including law enforcement agencies and crime victim and advocacy agencies, and to provide treatment services to students who have been victimized. It also allows for training faculty, staff, students and police officers,” said Elizabeth Droz, director of the University Counseling Center. “When we hire were going to hire someone with experience in this area, who can do outreach and deal with police.” The new specialist will allow the University to:

• Implement and operate education programs for the prevention of violent crimes against women.

• Develop, enlarge or strengthen support service programs, including medical or psychological counseling, for victims of sexual offense crimes.

• Create and disseminate information about victims’ options, on and off campus, to bring disciplinary or other legal action.

• Develop, enlarge or strengthen victims services programs for the campus and improve delivery of victim services on campus.

There are already a number of programs and departments in place on campus to help victims of sexual assault, Droz said. The grant will help unify those efforts to provide a more consistent response in instances of sexual violence and help track the number of cases each year. One of the partners in the grant, the Binghamton Police Department, was included because of the large number of students living in the city.

Droz, who wrote the grant proposal with Gerald Johansen, coordinator of the campus’s alcohol and drug program, and Daniel McCormack, from the University’s Center for Learning and Teaching, believes that Binghamton received the grant because of the work already being done to assist students who have been sexually victimized and well as prevent future attacks.

“We have great resources on this campus, we just need to coordinate them,” Droz said. “What we wanted to do is make it a seamless system, so if something traumatic happens to a student, they hear the same message from everyone— even from a professor.”

The faculty can play a key role in helping victims get the help they need. Students who may not be willing to talk about an instance of rape may write about it in a paper, Droz said. The educational component of the program funded by the grant will help faculty members handle those situations and put the students in contact with the people who can help them.

“Very few grants allow you to hire people and there are very few grants for counseling centers, Droz said. “When we hire were going to hire someone with experience in this area, who can do outreach and deal with police.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08