By Jessica Torrez-Riley and Jenna Jones
The U.S. Department of Justice granted $200,000 to Northeastern’s Human Services Program in the College of Arts and Science in order to open a new Campus Center on Violence Against Women.
The Center will serve as a hub of information, education and services to “further develop the university’s existing sexual assault prevention program, while enlisting students in peer education and strengthening the university’s collaboration with community organizations like the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) and the Victim Rights Law Center,” according to a release.
“The receipt of this grant is representative of Northeastern’s continued commitment to reduce incidences of violence against women, provide support to victims, and to ensure just prosecution of perpetrators,” said Lori Gardinier, director of the Human Services Program, in the announcement.
While there is no specific location set for the center, the plan is to house it somewhere within the Human Services Department by next spring, said Natalia Stone, an administrative assistant in the program.
“The grant came about because we already had this course pretty well-established and we were getting a lot of notoriety on campus … a lot of students were really interested in it,” Stone said.
The grant will provide the center with a full-time coordinator and create an undergraduate Peer Educators Program, which will allow students to complete a sexual assault training course and perform 60 hours of community education and outreach a year.
Stone said the goal is to have students become sexual assault and rape crisis counselors themselves.
“They’re going to be able to offer peer counseling, whether working for BARCC or just for friends. It’s really going to strengthen the services on campus,” she said.
She said students will receive four credits from the training course and will be able to receive additional credit for doing work in the field.
The grant will also allow for increased collaboration with the Northeastern Police Department and the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution to expand response training to dating violence and sexual assault, as well as increase counseling and support services through a partnership with the BARCC.
“We’re making a lot of connections,” Stone said. “We’re looking to strengthen the partnerships on campus and really streamline the services to the students.”
Besides partnering with the law center and the division of public safety the center also plans to work with the Department of Residence Life to increase awareness of violence against women in residence halls, she said.
“We hope that the campus center will really just streamline services on campus. That everybody at Northeastern and in the community will be more aware of violence against women in general. That they’ll know what the services out there are,” Stone said.
Currently the university offers programs including the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program and a Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Seminar. University Health and Counseling Services also employs a full-time sexual assault counselor who is available to all students.
Jim Stellar, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement he was pleased with the grant.
“Violence against women is a persistent problem in our society and in the world,” Stellar said. “As a university connected with the real world through its experiential education programs, we have an obligation and an opportunity to address this issue and thereby serve individuals locally and globally.”