Emerson College has received a $10,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for Women through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence initiative. The grant will fund the efforts of Violence Prevention and Response at Emerson College to activate bystanders to reduce sexual assault, dating abuse, and stalking. This is the second year that the College has received funding from the Avon Foundation for Women.
The grant is one of 25 Avon campus grants totaling $250,000 awarded to colleges nationwide to fund programs focused on preventive education on dating abuse and violence, sexual assault, stalking, and the promotion of healthy relationships, as well as offering local resources and providing referrals for community-based domestic violence experts. The grant also supports educator training, materials, and support sessions about healthy relationships. Young women ages 16–24 experience the highest rates of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since the Clery Act was passed in 1990, a variety of initiatives have been developed to educate college administrators on the issues of gender violence, particularly sexual assault, and to provide resources for college campuses to reduce violence. Although much has been learned, there is a great deal more that can be accomplished to implement effective campus-wide policies and prevention practices to prevent and reduce incidences of violence.
In April 2014, the White House issued NOT ALONE: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, highlighting steps that school administrators can and must take to honor their obligation to protect all students from sexual assault and violence. Recognizing that school administrators bear the burden of responsibility to provide safe communities for all students, the Avon Foundation partnered with Futures Without Violence to develop Guidelines for Preventing and Responding to Gender-Based Violence in Higher Education. These guidelines highlight best practices for creating and promoting a campus norm of interpersonal respect and non-violent relationships, and can be downloaded for free.
Students must also be part of the solution to help prevent violence perpetrated against and by their peers. With this new grant, the Avon Foundation has funded campus dating abuse programs to educate significant numbers of student groups and faculty to create awareness, recognize the warning signs of abuse, and encourage students to safely intervene to help prevent violence. “We are proud that the Avon Foundation for Women shares our mission and has chosen to support our program. With these funds, we will be able to engage Emerson students, staff, and faculty of all backgrounds, identities, and experiences with Emerson STANDS (Stick Together. Act Now. Do Something.) active bystander intervention activities to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and empathetic attitudes to be active bystanders and shape a safe and inclusive campus,” said Melanie Matson, director of Violence Prevention and Response at Emerson College.