Posted at: 03/01/2013 12:29 PM
Updated at: 03/04/2013 7:11 AM
By: Brittany Falkers
Just yesterday the House passed a Senate-approved version of the Violence Against Women Act. The reauthorization of this act will help to strengthen the two decades of change the pervious version prompted. Now, going even further to reduce domestic violence, transform the way victims of abuse are treated, and extend protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community.
Here in Duluth, the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) is taking their own proactive approach to combating violence in our community. A new initiative aims to change the way we think about and react to domestic violence and sexual assault.
It is called the Violence Intervention and Prevention Project. Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice, the college has started its long anticipated work to find and implement the best policies and practices to combat domestic and sexual violence.
Lexie Generous was brought to CSS for the Violence Intervention and Prevention Project. She is a safe campus intervention coordinator and is working tirelessly to bring this initiative to the forefront in our area, starting on campus.
"The grant, at large, is working on a community coordinated response to challenge gender inequity. Specifically looking at sexual and domestic violence here on campus," Generous said.
Generous says that in taking a proactive approach with student and faculty, they are sending a message to the community. "The campus really needs to make a stand that we are not supporting gender inequity. We are not supporting violence in the community," she said.
Tad Sears is the school's director at the Student Center for Health and Wellbeing. He says the school has been hoping for this grant for some time to really be able to study and apply their proactive approach.
"Really to look at various aspects," Sears said, "Both looking at our policies and procedures related to violence, sexual assault specifically, but also we're working on intimate partner violence and stalking as well."
It is part of the CSS mission of overall student health and well-being. Sears says the school will continue its partnership with outside organizations such as the Men as Peacemakers, Safe Haven, and the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault or PAVSA.
Sears says raising awareness of what to do after an incident is important, but changing the overall climate and way of thinking about violence against women is the ultimate goal.
"Not just intervention, but prevention. What kind of culture do we need to create to prevent violence from happening in the first place," he said.
CSS is looking at educational opportunities, bringing advocacy groups to campus, and much more to combat the cultural problem of gender inequity and violence.
"I just think it's so crucial to have that proactive stance that violence is not okay here," Generous said, "that people know that and follow that message," Generous said.
This grant will extend until 2015, however the school hopes it will extend into the future to continue its proactive approach to changing how society views abuse and reacts to it.