Brenau Selected as One of Six Colleges for $581,000 GICA Grant Program to Combat Sexual Misconduct on Campuses
Brenau University will participate with five other institutions in a $581,000 statewide study aimed at reducing incidents of sexual assault on college and university campuses.
The federally funded study, commissioned by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department Office on Women’s Health, is administered by the Georgia Independent College Association. The six schools involved in the three-year period will develop and implement strategic policies and programs that will serve as models for other institutions in and out of Georgia as they address the growing problem on college and university campuses.
Sexual assault scandals like the one that has engulfed Baylor University in the past two years – in large part because of mishandling of issues at the highest levels of the administration – have motivated higher education institutions to re-evaluate how they promote awareness of, implement successful prevention policies for and react to sexual assault on campuses. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted on college campuses. And the organization speculates from additional research that 90 percent of those victims do not report their assaults.
Unlike many schools, Brenau over the years has experienced very few instances of sexual assault, said the university Title IX Coordinator and Vice President of Student Services Amanda Lammers. However, she added, “in light of statistics like these, it is clear that all colleges and universities need to be always mindful of the problem. We all need to work harder at developing and implement the most effective programs that they can to help prevent sexual assault.”
Lisa Macke, GICA vice president for member services, said the organization sought a diversity of institutions to participate.
“The advantage to this grant is that we are looking at a range of different types of institutions, so it is a nice assortment for other colleges to look to for resources and to model from,” she said. “We hope these universities will be examples to other Georgia colleges, so we can expand and form a statewide campus coalition by year two of the grant program.”
In addition to Brenau, the GICA-member institutions participating in the study are Agnes Scott College, LaGrange College, Morehouse College, Oglethorpe University and Reinhardt University. Lammers said the university will reap some benefits from participation. GICA established the compliance collaborative as a part of its emphasis on helping its member institutions deal with three major federal laws that involve U.S. government regulation and oversight of activities on college and university campuses: the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Cleary Act, which requires all colleges and universities to keep and disclose information about crime on and near campuses; and Title IX of the U.S. Education Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. “GICA in support of the institutions that it serves focuses the ever-changing regulations,” said Lammers. “The government is changing regulations all the time. If you don’t have one person dedicated to federal compliance, it’s really difficult to stay up to date.”
When the HHS women’s agency awarded the sexual assault prevention grant, GICA tapped the collaborative to assist all the institutions in bringing policies and programs up to date.
“These participating campuses are coming forward out of a desire to be the cream of the crop for students to feel safe and comfortable in reporting any incidents of assault,” said Macke. “It is not because women aren’t reporting such crimes. We want to create reporting-friendly campuses so both men and women are encouraged to come forth and report.”
The $581,000 will be divided among the participating campuses over the three-year period, and each campus receives seed money toward their prevention efforts. The initiatives will be implemented in four pieces: online modules for students produced by Everfi, including Haven (a sexual assault education module) and AlcoholEdu (an alcohol awareness module); the bystander prevention initiative; a social norms campaign, which looks at creating messages among students about sexual assault by incorporating data from all participating campuses; and a healthy relationships initiative to help raise awareness and prevent abusive relationships.
While GICA and the schools are still in the process of determining how the aspects of the program will be implemented and how GICA will connect Brenau to the resources it will need, Lammers is proud of Brenau being selected as one of the six participating campuses.
“Because of our tradition as a women’s college, we should be going above and beyond to empower all women, to make healthy choices about our relationships, to combat sexual misconduct and to be leaders in the field. From what I understand, there’s really nothing else like [this program] in the country, so it’s important that Brenau, with its focus on women’s education, be a part of that.”