Vermont Senator Pat Leahy makes remarks at an October 4 press conference to announce Department of Justice grants for Middlebury and 11 other Vermont grant recipients.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury has received a three-year grant of $299,305 from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expand its work to prevent and respond to sexual violence throughout the institution. The new funding, called a continuation grant, will build upon the work made possible by Middlebury’s first three-year DOJ grant awarded in 2013. While the initial funding supported training, programming, and resources for the undergraduate college, the continuation grant will help Middlebury adapt some of the same approaches to its schools and programs, including the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, Language Schools, Schools Abroad, Bread Loaf School of English, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences.

“Preventing and responding effectively to sexual violence requires a multi-pronged approach, one in which all members of all Middlebury communities must be fully engaged,” said Katy Smith Abbott, Middlebury vice president for student affairs and dean of the college. Abbott made the remarks at an October 4 press conference held by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy in Middlebury to announce the state’s DOJ grant recipients.

“We’re excited to adapt the models that have helped us to make progress on the undergraduate campus to meet the needs of students at Middlebury schools and programs around the world,” said Karen Guttentag, associate dean for judicial affairs and student life and the grant’s project director. “These are Middlebury students who are in a diverse array of cultural environments where there may not be a residential campus, whose programs may be of shorter duration, and who may reflect a broader range of ages and nationalities than our Vermont population. We need to ensure that all of our strategies and resources are culturally and linguistically appropriate and effective for the many distinct campus populations and programs they serve.”

To educate faculty, staff, and students at its various schools and programs about sexual violence and prevention, Middlebury will again partner with Green Dot, an Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit that offers bystander intervention training. “Our shared goal is to develop new Green Dot curricula directed at short-term programs, international schools, and graduate programs,” said Guttentag. “In addition to serving the Middlebury population, we hope to contribute vital new models to the national compendium of bystander intervention resources.”

Katy Smith Abbott, vice president and dean of the college, makes remarks as Vermont Senator Pat Leahy listens at a press conference held October 4 in the town offices in Middlebury.

Many of Middlebury’s programs and schools operate in languages other than English. The new grant will fund materials in the languages necessary to educate the faculty and staff of Middlebury’s international programs about sexual violence, their roles as responsible employees, and how to respond to and support survivors. “The translation and interpretation programs at the Middlebury Institute will be a critical resource, as they will help us to communicate the content in ways that are linguistically accurate and culturally appropriate to the particular population,” said Guttentag.

Middlebury will seek to replicate the success of its local partnership with the Middlebury Police Department, the State’s Attorney’s Office, WomenSafe, and Porter Hospital to coordinate and improve services for survivors. To ensure that Middlebury schools and programs around the world have similarly strong relationships with their community partners, the institution will utilize the nonprofit WomenSafe as a consultant.

The new grant will also help achieve the following goals:

  • MiddSafe, a confidential peer advocacy program, will expand to provide support services to students on the Middlebury and Ripton campuses during the summer and the academic year.
  • In partnership with several organizations, including Pride Center of Vermont, Middlebury will deepen its cultural capacities to better understand and respond to the needs of LGBTQH students, international students, and students of color, refining and expanding services accordingly.
  • Middlebury will strengthen its education and programming options for College students, faculty, and staff that explore facets of healthy masculinity.
  • Middlebury will build on the successes of the 2013 grant by strengthening existing programs, including ongoing training for staff who provide direct services to students reporting sexual misconduct, and the partnership between Porter Medical Center and the Middlebury College Parton Center for Health and Wellness that expanded community access to post-sexual assault medical care.

“Preventing sexual misconduct, dating violence and stalking, providing effective support options to survivors, and holding offenders accountable requires an ongoing and multifaceted effort from all members of the Middlebury community, here in Vermont and around the world,” said Guttentag. “We are very grateful to the Department of Justice and to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the lead author of the Violence Against Women Act–the legislation that provided the grants. Thanks to their efforts, we have the funding to make this critical work possible.”

Reporting by Sarah Ray and photography by Robert Keren