Today, Mark E. Ojakian, President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), was joined by the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Chief State’s Attorney, and members of local and state law enforcement to announce coordinated efforts to prevent and address sexual assault on college campuses. The efforts include an online tool to educate students on bystander intervention, consent, and sexual assault, written agreements with local and state law enforcement to investigate reported incidents, and renewed training for our Campus Resource Teams (CRT) on all campuses.
Beginning this month, all twelve community colleges will begin rolling out interactive software to educate students on bystander intervention, consent, stalking and domestic violence. Students will receive comprehensive orientation of Not Anymore, a web-based program that uses peer-to-peer testimonials by survivors and bystanders of sexual assault, video-based scenarios, animation and graphics.
All twelve community colleges are pursuing written agreements with the state's attorneys' office, and local and state law enforcement to investigate reported incidents. The formal agreements will, among other things, designate points of contact at each agency, along with clear roles and responsibilities.
“We are trying to change the culture around sexual assault and intimate partner violence on campus,” said CSCU President Ojakian. “We want to provide our students with tools and resources that protect their safety but more importantly, we want to try and prevent incidents from occurring at all. We are focusing a lot of our efforts on education and training so students feel comfortable coming forward and staff are sharing best practices.”
“As the state’s leading voice for victims of domestic violence and those who serve them, the opportunity to work in partnership with Connecticut’s public higher education system to improve policy, support and response for victims on college campuses has been impactful, said Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “We know that one in three college women report having been in an abusive dating relationship. Given this, shared strategies for a collective approach is enormously important.”
“The Division of Criminal Justice, through the State’s Attorneys' office, is fully committed to working with our colleges and universities to fulfill our constitutional duty to investigate and prosecute crime. Sexual assault, whether it occurs on campus or elsewhere, must be treated as the serious crime that it is,” said Gail P. Hardy, State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford.
“For over two decades, The Alliance and our member programs have been at the forefront of cultivating meaningful collaborations with Connecticut’s colleges and universities to ensure that the needs of survivors are met,” said Beth Hamilton, Associate Director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the state's coalition of sexual assault crisis services programs. "We know that our continued partnership with the CSCU system and other grant partners will be vital to ensuring that we elevate best practices through our prevention and education programs with both students and staff.”
Last October, CSCU received the largest federal Safe and Friendly Environment (SAFE) grant ($750,000) from the Office of Violence against Women since the agency started awarding in 1995. The SAFE grant is being used to strengthen existing efforts including enhanced education and training of CRTs across all 17 campuses.
Next spring, CSCU plans to roll out on-campus workshops that show students how to intervene if witnessing a sexual assault along with a system-wide educational campaign targeting male students on the idea of “healthy masculinity.”
As always, there are statewide hotline numbers for anyone wanting to report a sexual assault. The services are confidential, free and available 24 hours a day. The numbers are: 1-888-999-5545 (English) and 1-888-568-8332 (Spanish)
In May of 2014, the State of Connecticut passed Public Act 14-11, An Act Concerning Sexual Assault, Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence outlining requirements for all campuses across the state in addressing sexual assault.
For more information, please contact:
Maribel La Luz