Grant to offer bars bystander training

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 8:58pm

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration awarded $500,000 on Thursday to fund sexual assault prevention initiatives at universities across the state. The University will receive $20,000 to fund “Raise the Bar,” a new program to train staff at Ann Arbor bars to intervene in situations that may result in sexual assault.

The University is working alongside Wolverine Wellness and the Ann Arbor Campus Community Coalition, a local group dedicated to reducing alcohol-related harm, to train local business owners to recognize and successfully intervene in harmful situations.

“We are really excited about this project because we are taking our bystander intervention efforts off of campus and into the community where often the trajectory of harm begins,” said Holly Rider-Milkovich, director of the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.

The grant stems from the governor’s Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program, an initiative designed to help Michigan colleges and universities fund additional sexual assault prevention resources. Of the 33 colleges and universities that applied for funding in October, 23 received a portion of the $500,000.

According to a press release, the grant aims to change the culture of sexual assault among college students. Universities and colleges submitted proposals for specific projects which fostered collaboration, innovative ideas and encouraged student involvement.

“In Michigan we have a proven track record of working together to tackle the tough issues and solve problems,” Snyder said in the press release. “This funding is an important step in working to ensure the long-term safety and success of our state’s students.”

The University is the second school to employ a bar bystander intervention program, after the University of Iowa. Rider-Milkovich said she hopes to share the results of the bar bystander intervention program with other schools to help them implement similar initiatives in the future.

“It’s a promising new approach and it represents significant new efforts in the area,” Rider-Milkovich said. “We are extremely excited that the selection committee chose this project to be funded.”

The University’s satellite campuses in Flint and Dearborn also received funding through the program — the Dearborn campus received $38,016 and the Flint campus received $29,363.