Campus sexual assault grant application opens

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 4:14pm

The Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program, funded by the government of Michigan, has begun accepting applications for the 2017 fiscal year funding.

This is the second year the grant has been offered, after being introduced by Michigan First Daily Sue Snyder and Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Michigan State Police director, in June of 2015 at the “Inform. Empower. Prevent. Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault” summit. Snyder will host the second annual summit on Sept. 30 at the University of Michigan.

The grant, which allocates $500,00 in total, aims to fund programs for sexual assault prevention training. Applications for the grant will be open until Oct. 13 and will be reviewed by a committee of representatives from the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the Executive Office of the Governor.

Heather Colohan, program manager of community outreach and systems advocacy at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, confirmed that the University will be applying for funding through the grant again for 2017.

Last year, the University received $20,003, which it put toward its Raise the Bar program. The program works with Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the University Health Service’s Wolverine Wellness and the Ann Arbor Campus Community Coalition to train local bar owners and employees to recognize potentially harmful situations.

The program began the training at five bars over the summer by offering a free bystander intervention training session for all staff. Colohan said according to a post-program survey given to the staff who attended the session, all who participated indicated that they would recommend the program to other bars.

Colohan said there is currently no evidence available of the direct effects of the program, but SAPAC plans to follow up with the five bars in the future to evaluate whether the training decreased the instances of sexual assault in their establishments.

She added that if the University does not receive funding from the grant, Raise the Bar will continue to be funded through SAPAC resources.

“We will definitely be supplying funding through SAPAC if not through the grant for the project,” she said. “The project will be continuing.”

The University was the second institution to use bystander intervention training at bars following the University of Iowa.

Over the past few years, the University has introduced a series of initiatives aimed at sexual assault prevention, following a 2014 investigation by the Department of Education into UM sexual misconduct policies. The investigation stemmed from several complaints, including over the handling of the Brendan Gibbons case

The University has updated its sexual misconduct policy multiple times since the investigation, nearly doubling the length of the document. Part of the revision took into account student input gathered during town-hall style discussions.

The Office for Institutional Equity’s annual sexual misconduct report showed a 33 percent increase in the number of misconduct reports from 2014 to 2015. However, the number of cases investigated by OIE did not change.

Colohan said SAPAC is also considering other projects that grant funding could be put toward if they receive it again, but she said she is unable to comment on them further until they are developed fully.