Volume 97 Issue 3 News

Juniata receives grant for violence against women

by Jessica Ware

As of Oct. 1, Juniata is able to use a $300,000 grant awarded by the Department of Justice to help address issues on sexual violence or harassment on campus.

“The purpose of the grant is to help address issues of dating violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence on college campus,” said Daniel Cook-Huffman, the interim dean of students at Juniata College. “It’s a grant from the United States Federal Department of Justice office on violence against women.”

The focus of this grant is, “to help enhance victim support. To help create more clear and better protocol and reporting systems. To help create more predictability and how this all works, so people have clarity about it and aren’t confused about it. Also to create educational programing, bystander intervention, men’s programs, women’s empowerment programs,” said Cook-Huffman.

The name of the grant is Juniata-CEVN, which stands for Coalition to End Violence Now. “The ‘CEVEN’ also represents the seven partners overall,” said Cook-Huffman. “One of the grant requirements is that we have internal and external partners that are offices and local agencies that work with us and collaborate with us on the grant. Our internal partners at Juniata are athletics, campus ministry, diversity inclusion, the residential life office, health and wellness, public safety and the dean of students office. Our external partners are J.C. Blair Hospital, the district attorney’s office of Huntingdon County, the Huntingdon Bough Police, Huntingdon House, the Abuse Network, and the Michael J. Ayers Law Project.”

“I think it is a great opportunity,” said Gregory Curley, athletic director at Juniata. “Athletics will be involved directly and how we implement the program. Obviously for two things, with no Greek system on campus and a third of our students are athletes, it is easy to get an audience and to be able to have our student athletes come into groups and teams. I also think it is more essential because,  across the country, (in) some of these incidents there are higher rates within the student athlete population. We want to make sure we are doing our best to stay out of those numbers and to do better.”

With this new grant comes a new position on campus. “The grant requires us to hire a full-time program coordinator and violence prevention advocate. We are in the process of that right now. We are receiving applications and our hope is to have that person in place on campus by the end of the semester,” said Cook-Huffman.

“That position will also work closely with athletes to hopefully target our group to help us bring those kind of opportunities to our student-athletes just like when we brought in a nutritionist or we bring somebody in about diversity issues. It’s just in our ongoing attempt to educate our student-athletes and add to their experience,” said Curley.

The process to get this grant began in the spring. “The deadline to submit for the grant was back in late March, so we spent a good deal of time in February and March working on it,” said Cook-Huffman. “It takes many hours of developing these memos of understanding with your internal and external partners. Writing about Juniata as an institution, culture and community. Also giving the Department of Justice a good picture of the problem that we may have on our campus and how we are trying to solve it.”

Speaking on how the process of the obtaining the grant went, Cook-Huffman said, “We took great care, followed the guidelines carefully, answered the questions well, gave them good supportive documentations, and wrote a real solid narrative and made a case to why we would benefit from it.”

“According to Mike Keating, who is our grants director here at Juniata, he said that the average success rate for Department of Justice or Federal grants is about 15 percent. About 15 percent of the time you do a grant submission to the federal government, you’ll win it. This is the first time we have done a grant like this. We won it on the first time,” said Cook-Huffman.

“I think it is a great sign.  It’s such an important issue in our society today, and I really think Juniata was out in front of this and wants to make sure we’re doing right by our students and making sure it is the right community,” said Curley.

Cook-Huffman and President James Troha sent an email to the campus community Oct. 21 addressing the grant as well as the campus climate. “In that email, we conveyed the idea that the data from the climate survey that we did last spring and we have finally received it late in the summer. That data suggests that while Juniata is a relative safe community, we are not that different from most college campuses,” said Cook-Huffman. “In other words, there is a normal amount of sexual harassment and violence that occurs on our campus.”

“We probably have a problem here, just like any other college campus, but we are not hearing about it officially. One of our conclusions was that we probably are not seeing, and the climate survey confirmed this. There is stuff going on that is not being officially reported,” said Cook-Huffman.

The initial grant will span three years. “I hope in the long term it will wildly reduce the incidents of any kind of sexually harassment or violence on campus,” said Cook-Huffman. “If you pay attention to the announcements, poster, and things on campus, there will be a lot more happening when we really get this grant rolling. Get ready and stay tuned. There is more to come.”

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