TOPEKA (KSNT) – Washburn University has been selected by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women to receive 1 of 27 awards designed to support a broad approach to the prevention, investigation and response to sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking on campus.
The awards total $8.5 million; Washburn was awarded $299, 838 for their “Creating a Culture of Consent at Washburn University: Confronting Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus” project. Washburn University, the only college or university in Kansas to be part of this grant, will collaborate with the YWCA Northeast Kansas and the Victim/Witness Unit of the Shawnee County District Attorney on the grant project.
Washburn said the awards will be used to enhance victim services as well as to improve prevention, investigation and response for these crimes, according to the Department of Justice.
As part of the grant, Washburn will be required to conduct mandatory prevention and education programming for all incoming students, said Joel Bluml, associate vice president for student life. In addition, the grant will help the university train campus law enforcement and all members of campus disciplinary boards to respond effectively to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
Bluml said that Washburn’s approach will coordinate on-campus resources with community-based programs to provide the best possible results for the students.
“We will be able to use the funds to develop and adopt policies and protocols that prioritize victim safety and that hold offenders accountable,” Bluml said. “We are already making great progress in those areas but this grant will help speed the process significantly.”
The welfare of the students is the primary concern of the Department of Justice, according to Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson of the Office on Violence Against Women
“We know that victims who receive comprehensive advocacy and services are more likely to achieve their goals of safety, autonomy and healing,” Hanson said. “Coordination between on-and-off campus victim services organizations and the local criminal justice system is critical to providing holistic support and services that victims need and to ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable.”