By Taylor Smallwood
Juniata College received a $30,000 grant from It’s On Us PA. Within the grant, there are some objectives for the College to follow and mini-grants for faculty.
It’s On Us PA is the Pennsylvania branch of the It’s On Us campaign launched by former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden. Pennsylvania was the first state to start its own branch of the organization.
With the budget from the grant, the College’s Office of Violence Prevention plans to launch It’s On Us initiatives this semester, as well as other programs like Green Dot.
Director of Violence Prevention Jody Althouse will oversee the programs, such as Green Dot. “Green dot is actually a curriculum that you get trained on about engaging bystanders,” she said. “It’s a violence reduction program. It’s evidence based, and when it was studied, it proved that by using this program, you could do a 50% violence reduction on campuses.”
“One of our objectives is social norms messaging, which is from the Green Dot program. It’s On Us helped us pay to bring the Green Dot people here and for us to get trained,” Althouse said.
28 faculty and staff members were trained in December by Green Dot experts. “It’s basically teaching students, faculty, and staff how to prevent interpersonal violence from happening. So when you see something, and you get that gut feeling that something’s wrong, what do you do? So many people want to do something, but they’re afraid to, or they don’t know what to do,” Althouse said.
Another objective within the grant is to create late-night activities for students on the weekends. “It’s for the whole campus community, and we want to attract students during those higher risk social times, but also hold really fun alternatives to partying,” Althouse said. This program will be called Eagles After Dark.
Newly formed committees of students and staff will decide how to launch the It’s On Us program on the campus. “It’s a pledge students can take, and we’re going to have other events on campus that students can come to and learn about sexual assault on campus,” said junior and the SPOT (Safe Place tO Talk) Juniata Associate Ellie Hainsworth.
“We’re going to brainstorm how to do this, and what really works at Juniata, because it has to come from the students. They’re the ones who will know for sure what will really work,” Althouse said.
The It’s On Us budget also leaves room for mini-grants for faculty at the College to apply for. The mini-grants will require faculty members to incorporate violence prevention topics in existing course curriculums, or to develop new courses.
Another change to come is that the student workers in the SPOT, the hang-out space for students located in the Office for Violence Prevention, will be trained to become confidential peer advocates. “When someone comes into the office, we can talk to them as peers, instead of them having to go to Jody,” said Hainsworth.
Althouse also assisted in creating a steering committee of healthy, committed couples, who will create fun dates each month for other committed Juniata couples. “It’s for anyone in a relationship whether that’s male-male, female-male, female-female, because it makes no difference, as long as they’re in a healthy relationship,” Althouse said. “We’re going to show that it can be fun, can be healthy, so that both people feel supported and loved in a healthy way.”
President James Troha offered his home to the steering committee to create a cooking class date which will take place in February. These dates will be posted on the announcements, and are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To follow upcoming events from the SPOT, “like” the Juniata College Office for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence and follow their Twitter account @juniatacares.