SU receives $27,000 grant for resources to fight campus sexual assault
Shippensburg University will receive a $27,000 state grant to build on an initiative launched nearly three years ago to combat sexual assault on campus.
Gov. Tom Wolf awarded SU the grant as part of his administration’s “It’s On Us PA” campaign. The funding will establish a 24-hour advocacy hotline for student victims of sexual misconduct, create an online reporting system and add other resources to bolster the university’s efforts to educate students and increase their awareness of sexual violence.
Stephanie Erdice, director of the SU Women’s Center and interim director of social equity, said the grant will enable the university to build on the momentum of Ship Says No More, an initiative started in spring 2014 “to engage all members of our community in ending sexual assault and domestic violence on our campus.”
Ship Says No More has grown from an initial public relations campaign and a series of workshops for students and employees to include training on sexual misconduct reporting and resources for faculty and staff in all campus departments, development of a syllabus statement for faculty that provides a link to policies and resources, a customized video and comprehensive educational programming for students in residence halls, fraternities and sororities and athletic programs.
“Ship Says No More has proven to be a powerful education and prevention tool in our fight to end sexual assault and domestic violence,” Erdice said. “Our next step is to improve reporting processes, increase the content of our advocacy resources and expand access to that content.
“As more students, faculty and staff become engaged in ending sexual violence, we need to keep up with the demand for up-to-date reporting and response methods.”
The university will partner with YWCA Carlisle and Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Services of Cumberland County to establish the advocacy line, which will give students 24-hour access to experts trained in emergency counseling and crisis intervention.
It also will develop an online reporting system that will allow for anonymous reporting of sexual misconduct. “One of our goals is to reduce barriers to reporting and decrease the time between sexual misconduct incidents and reporting,” Erdice said.
Students do not consider email a viable method of reporting sexual assault, she said. “We believe that with a more effective method of reporting sexual misconduct, more reports would be made. That would give the university the opportunity to provide resources to victims more quickly while effectively disciplining those who commit such offenses.”
In addition, SU will incorporate Ship Says No More website content into its mobile app, which will further increase student awareness of available resources as it expands access to them.
“This grant will enable us to improve our outreach to students,” Erdice said. “They respond best to concise communication and easy-to-access information and processes. This makes online reporting, including anonymous reporting and the development of a high-quality resource app, crucial to our ability to reach them effectively.”