A three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will make it possible for Occidental College to strengthen its response to sexual assault through enhanced training, preventative education, program development, and better coordination of on- and off-campus resources.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to build on initiatives we already have in place – offering more training for faculty, staff and students, working with community partners to provide increased support for survivors, and focusing more resources and attention on this very serious problem," said assistant dean of students Paula Crisostomo, principal investigator for the grant.
Occidental is one of 28 colleges and universities to be funded during the latest Department of Justice grant cycle. It is the only college in California and one of a handful of liberal arts colleges nationwide to receive a grant.
Known as Oxy Cares, the project funded by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women will involve eight campus offices, faculty, and the college’s Title IX coordinator. Off-campus partners are the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Division, Peace Over Violence, and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
The grant will make it possible for on- and off-campus partners to meet on a regular basis as a Coordinated Community Response Team. Not only will this ensure the most effective delivery of direct services to students, but it will provide a structure to provide more training for Campus Safety officers and faculty and staff who are serving on hearing panels or investigators in sexual misconduct cases.
"We want to make sure that our policies and our process are carried out consistently, and the grant will make it possible to regularly offer cross-training and ensure that we continue to keep up with best practices," Crisostomo said.
The grant also will make it possible for Occidental to deepen its commitment to bystander intervention training for students – a model that teaches third parties how to safely and positively intervene to prevent sexual violence – and expand the resources available for survivor advocacy.
Members of the response team will include Student Affairs, Intercultural Affairs, Emmons Student Wellness Center, Campus Safety, Residential Education and Housing Services, Religious & Spiritual Life, and Student Life.
Occidental has been working directly with the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center since 2010, with Peace Over Violence since 2003, and has had a close working relationship with LAPD’s Northeast Division for more than 20 years. All three collaborated with the college in putting together the successful grant proposal.