The University is well-suited for the DOJ grant because of its victim services administration concentration within criminal justice and its victimology, psychology and criminal justice clubs. Students will participate as peer educators to raise awareness of the issues on campus and help run events on campus.
Likewise, the three professors who will be administering the grant have extensive expertise in this area. Dutton is an expert on stalking and is a member of the editorial board of the journal Partner Abuse. Narchet has conducted research on sexual assault victimization. Tamborra has conducted research and published in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, and served as the director of domestic violence services at a nonprofit agency in New Jersey.
The grant will provide a half-time graduate assistant to staff an office and maintain a website, training for students to serve as peer educators, and extensive training for the UNH and West Haven police departments.
The grant also will provide training for the UNH Student Conduct Board and Sexual Misconduct Board. A weekly support group for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence will also be started under the grant.
Special programming during Sexual Assault Awareness Week, Alcohol Awareness Month, Stalking Awareness Month and at other times of the year is being planned. In addition, during orientation, all incoming students will be educated about the role bystanders can play in preventing violence against women and will be asked to sign a bystander pledge after they are educated on the “ABCs” – Assess the situation, Be with others, Care for the victim.
The grant also will fund an educational component to be included in all First-Year Experience courses, a one-credit course required of all new students at the University.
“Our goals are to improve their awareness, provide them with a safe environment where they can discuss these problems, provide them with tools to reduce the likelihood of victimization, and provide resources to which they can turn if they are victims.”
The professors also hope to involve faculty and staff since few have been educated about domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.
As part of the grant, a Committee on Violence Prevention and Intervention will be formed.
“Once they receive training, the members of the committee, which will include students, will begin the process of reviewing and revising policies and procedures,” Dutton said. The grant specifically states that “special attention will be paid to developing policies that hold offenders accountable, assure victim safety, preserve victim autonomy and encourage victims to report incidents even if drugs, alcohol or other illegal activities were involved.”
As part of the grant, the three professors conducted a survey of UNH undergraduates and found that the problems students at UNH have experienced are the same and occur at the same frequency as what students at other colleges across the country experience.
“We would like to make a concerted effort to reduce the UNH incident rate in the future,” Nachet said. “This grant will ultimately enrich the University since the issues of violence that women raise should not be kept in the closet, but rather discussed openly.”