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Feds give $300,000 to college to prevent sexual assault, dating violence, stalking

The award of a $300,000 Department of Justice grant to Lycoming College will enable the college to continue to expand a program designed to prevent sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking on the campus.

This is the second time that the college has received this grant, which goes for three years and according to Kristina Travis, project coordinator at the college, the grant will help to continue the work that began in 2017 with the first award.

Provided through DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women Campus Grant Program, the grant provides funding for the project director and enables the Coordinated Community Response team to continue coordinating victim services and prevention education.

“We want to create a culture in which violence isn’t tolerated and everyone’s expected to do their part,” Travis said, explaining the focus of the project.

In order to do this, the college has implemented programs to raise awareness to the issue of sexual and domestic violence and its many forms.

They instituted the Red Flag Campaign which Travis explained is a visual awareness program that is utilized the first six weeks of fall semester.

“That is referred to as the red zone, when more than 50 percent of the assaults that are going to occur happen,” Travis said.

“The purpose of the program is to help draw attention to red flags that could lead to a potentially dangerous

situation,” she added.

The campus is literally adorned with red flags, typical of those used at construction sites. Students can go to a website to get more information on potential red flags in the red zone.

The program also includes a poster series which lists scenarios that the students might encounter and ways in which they can intervene or shut them down.

Workshops with students as well as residence hall staff are conducted on topics such as understanding what healthy and unhealthy behaviors are in a relationship as well as teaching participants how to build bystander intervention skills.

“We view a scenario where we talk about all the people who could have done something to keep an assault from occurring. Then give some kind of skill built around that so it’s not just information. They get to develop the things that are appropriate for them because the way I would intervene is significantly different than the way you would intervene,” she said.

The college also offers enhanced orientation for new students and social media education as well coordinated and mandatory prevention education through the “U Got This” program.

Travis shared that the program is a requirement for all incoming students, whether they’re a first year or transfer student.

She explained that it is a three-module program that takes the student through the very basics of recognizing what are harmful behaviors and how do students intervene.

“How are we proactively using our words or actions to let people know that these things aren’t okay from the beginning to try to get at it before the violence will occur,” she said.

Travis noted that one benefit of the program is that it helps to get everyone on the same page regardless of the experiences or the knowledge they might bring to the situation.

Another facet of the program at Lycoming is to partner with Wise Options for victims’ services as well as enlisting the Williamsport Bureau of Police to train faculty, staff and campus public safety officers.

“The last three years, within our first grant cycle that will be ending soon, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to build a good relationship with the Williamsport Bureau of Police. So now that we have that foundation, we will be able to do more of those trainings and more of that awareness building with them in particular, with our staff, because we’ve been able to establish a trust between the individuals who work here and that particular agency,” Travis said.

The Green Dot bystander intervention program is another tool that the college uses to create that culture where violence won’t be tolerated. The program, which is offered to students and faculty across the campus, helps the participants to examine how their actions are either supporting violence or supporting violence prevention and how they can become involved proactively.

“How am I using my words? How do I let the people know that meet me in my community that violence isn’t tolerated with me and I’m going to do something when I come across it,” she said.

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