September 28, 2017

Castro Announces More than $290K for Reducing Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on College Campuses

San Antonio, TX – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) announced $299,570.00 to St. Mary’s University for a program that aims to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses. The award is from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) program Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus Program (Campus Program) and provides a unique opportunity for institutions of higher education to establish multidisciplinary approaches to combatting these issues on campuses. The Campus Program efforts are designed to enhance victim services, implement prevention and education programs, and develop and strengthen security and investigation strategies in order to prevent, prosecute and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes.

“With the Department of Education’s recent rollback of Title IX sexual assault policies, there’s a more urgent need for additional support to keep our college campuses safe for all students,” said Rep. Castro. “This timely, critical funding will help St. Mary’s pursue important efforts to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. Initiatives like the Campus Program foster healthy, secure environments where students can focus on learning and thrive.”

The Campus Program encourages a comprehensive, coordinated, community approach that enhances victim safety, provides services for victims and supports efforts to hold offenders accountable. The funding supports activities that develop and strengthen trauma-informed victim services and strategies to prevent, investigate, respond to, and prosecute sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Campuses are encouraged to create or revitalize large-scale efforts that treat sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking as serious offenses by adopting effective policies and protocols; developing victim services and programs that prioritize victim safety; ensuring offender accountability; and implementing effective prevention approaches. The program encourages colleges and universities to demonstrate to every student that these crimes will not be tolerated, that perpetrators will face serious consequences, and that holistic services are available for victims.

“St. Mary's University strives to maintain a safe campus environment. We are committed to further raising our community’s awareness about dating and domestic violence, stalking and sexual violence, as well as connecting affected members to campus and community resources and empowering all members of our community to prevent such incidents from occurring,” said Tim Bessler, Ed.D., Vice Provost for Student Development and Dean of Students at St. Mary’s University. “We are thrilled to receive this funding to create and implement an innovative community-partnered system that will expand support to students, faculty and staff affected by these incidents and bolster the University’s efforts to reduce dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault in our community! We are thankful to the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women for their generous support.”

The Office on Violence Against Women is a component of the United States Department of Justice. Created in 1995, OVW implements the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation and provides national leadership on issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Since its inception, OVW has supported a multifaceted approach to responding to these crimes through the implementation of VAWA-authorized grant programs. By forging state, local, and tribal partnerships among police, prosecutors, judges, victim advocates, health care providers, faith leaders, organizations that serve culturally specific and underserved communities, and others, OVW grants help provide victims, across their life span, with the protection and services they need to pursue safe and healthy lives, while improving communities’ capacity to provide justice for victims and hold offenders accountable.