MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Middlebury has received a three-year grant of $272,528 from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to enhance the college’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus. The funding will support education and training programs, and strengthen the college’s collaboration with local organizations that support Middlebury students. The DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women, which administers the grant, received 127 applications for funding in 2013. Middlebury was one of only 28 institutions whose grant proposal was accepted.
“This financial support will enhance our capability to fundamentally change campus culture regarding sexual violence,” said Karen Guttentag, associate dean for judicial affairs and student life at Middlebury and the grant’s project director. Guttentag said that the grant money will help the college to develop its Sexual Assault Advocacy Program, and revitalize and promote its bystander intervention program. Students will have the opportunity to attend new workshops on healthy relationships, masculinity, femininity and consent.
According to Guttentag, the grant also enables the college to strengthen existing mandatory programs for first-year undergraduate students and attendees of Middlebury summer programs, and create new education and prevention programs for targeted audiences, including students preparing to study abroad, male students, and faculty and staff. “One of the exciting aspects of the grant is how comprehensive it allows us to be, both in the type of programs we offer and the audiences we reach,” said Guttentag.
The new funding will extend beyond the campus’s borders and enable Middlebury to collaborate more closely with its community partners — WomenSafe, Burlington-based RU12?/SafeSpace, Addison County Council Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, the Middlebury Police Department, and Porter Hospital. “Harnessing all of the resources of our community to prevent and respond to sexual violence is a critical component of this grant,” said Guttentag.
As part of the tighter collaboration with local organizations, officers from the Middlebury Police Department and the Middlebury College Department of Public Safety will have the opportunity to collaborate on sexual violence training programs, sharing protocols and best practices. Both groups will also receive additional training from national experts in this area.
The grant will also help the college and the community address a local shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) by offering financial support to recruit and train new SANEs at Porter Hospital and at the college.
Guttentag notes that the new funds will provide for ongoing training for Middlebury’s human relations officer, members of its Sexual Misconduct Review Panel, and others involved in the college’s judicial process when there is an incident of sexual violence. “We want to make sure that any student in any Middlebury school or program who is either a survivor of sexual violence, or accused of sexual violence, can expect a fair investigation and adjudication process that meets the highest national standards,” she said.
“We look forward to working with our community partners, the student body, the Sexual Assault Oversight Committee, and many others on campus to take advantage of all the opportunities this grant has provided,” she added.