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U.S. Justice Department announces $8.5M in sexual assault prevention grants for college campuses

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that a total of $8.5 million in grants will be awarded to colleges nationwide with the intention to prevent, investigate and respond to sexual assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

The grants put a specific emphasis on holding the offenders accountable for their actions and prioritizing victim safety. The REFRAME campaign on the Colorado State University campus has similar goals.

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While CSU will not receive an award, Dr. Kathy Sisneros, director of the Women and Gender Advocacy center, said that the grant will hopefully bolster the efforts of smaller campuses with limited resources. CSU already has programs in place with plenty of room for development, Sisneros said, and it would be unfair to try to get that money when it could be put to better use elsewhere.

“We think that any initiative that is being put forth to better educate and inform folks about interpersonal violence, consent and health relationships is value added,” Sisneros said.

The 27 colleges receiving the awards will be required to conduct mandatory prevention and education training for all incoming students. Campus law enforcement agencies and disciplinary boards will be required to undergo this training too, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Violence Against Women Bea Hanson said that cooperation with off campus victim services organizations is crucial in achieving the goals of the grants.

“We know that victims who receive comprehensive advocacy and services are more likely to achieve their goals of safety, autonomy and healing.” Hanson said. “Coordination between on-and-off campus victim services, organizations and the local criminal justice system is critical to providing holistic support and services that victims need and ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable.”

Collegian City Beat Reporter Erik Petrovich can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @EAPetrovich.

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