WILMINGTON — Wilmington College received a $114,218 grant for programming and advocacy services in support of survivors of sexual assault.
WC successfully sought the grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in response to federal mandates that colleges and universities provide students with these types of resources in the event they are needed.
The funds cover the hiring of staff whose exclusive responsibilities deal with assisting those victims of what has become an all-too-frequent crime at colleges and universities across the nation. Those staff include both a half-time Title IX assistant and full-time survivor advocate.
The grant also provides for special programming to raise awareness of sexual assault and the services available to survivors. A hotline will be staffed with specially trained students.
Sigrid Solomon, vice president for student affairs, said the grant will allow the College to take an even stronger “proactive stance” in preventing sexual assault and providing services for its victims.
“Student safety is our primary concern,” she said. “The grant focuses on victims with advocacy and services.”
Solomon said the staffing will allow for current student affairs and residence life staff to share that element of their responsibilities with these newly hired professionals. Also, a significant portion of the funds covers training and compensation for students that staff the hotline and provide other types of victim support.
She added that students that find themselves as victims of sexual violence may wish to, at least initially, talk via the anonymity of a hotline to another student, who, as a trained advocate can provide a listening ear, support and information on how they can handle the situation.
“It can be less intimidating speaking with a student than speaking with a Campus Safety officer or housing staff member,” she added. “This will provide that additional layer of support.”
Also, Solomon added that those students on the front lines will be trained to “triage” calls that could necessitate involving any of the members Clinton County SART (Sexual Assault Response Team), a consortium of health and social services providers and law enforcement organizations.
The local SART team includes: Wilmington College, Clinton Memorial Hospital, Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office, Wilmington Police Dept., Clinton County Sheriff’s Dept., the Alternative to Violence Center, Clinton County Health Dept., Solutions Community Counseling and Recovery Center in Lebanon, Clinton County Dept. of Job and Family Services, and Mental Health and Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties.
“The grant will strengthen the College’s association with Clinton County SART,” she added.
In addition, Solomon said a new program, “Know Your IX” — referring to Title IX and its sweeping legislation affecting sexual discrimination in educational settings — is funded by the grant as a measure for encouraging students to take a leadership role in ending sexual violence.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the funds are part of $3 million in federal Victims of Crime Act funds that he set aside for Ohio colleges and universities’ sexual assault programming and services. WC was was among the 11 higher education institutions and four rape crisis centers that successfully applied for funding.
“Sexual assault happens much too often on university campuses,” DeWine said. “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.”