The University of Mississippi is putting up its fist to fight back against violence towards women.
After receiving a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, the UM Violence Prevention Office will work to enhance victim services and implement prevention and education programs.
It will also aid in developing and strengthening security and investigation strategies in order to prevent and prosecute domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes on campus and in our community.
Criminal justice assistant professor Linda Keena said she wants students to be more educated on the matters of violence so more people will report incidents.
“We want the students at Ole Miss to report incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking so that we can provide a support network that addresses their needs,” she said.
Keena said she wanted to pursue this project after being part of a similar project at her previous job. She discovered Ellen Schafer and others from Health Promotions were working on a similar grant, which motivated her to apply to the University of Mississippi.
According to Keena, Ole Miss is consistent with national figures of violence against women.
In a study of 6,000 students at 32 colleges in the U.S., one in four women have been victims of rape or attempted rape. Of those, 42 percent did not tell anyone and only five percent reported it to the police.
With the programs implemented by the grant, the numbers at Ole Miss may increase.
However, Keena believes the increase is positive.
“It’s OK if our numbers go up,” she said. “It means people are reporting these incidents, which is one of the stated purposes of the grant.”
The Violence Prevention Office is using a portion of the money to create a grant funded Web site.
“Once live, the Web site will serve as a resource for sexual violence information, campus policies and procedures, causes, prevention and treatment of violence against women on campus for all students, faculty, staff and parents,” Keena said.
The Web site is almost ready to go live.
The grant money will also be used to fund activities that develop campus-based coordinated responses including campus victim services, law enforcement, health providers, housing officials, administrators, student leaders, faith-based organizations, student organizations and disciplinary boards.
“It’s important because when they were applying for the funding they pulled together groups of students and during the focus groups and research, they realized that a lot of students do not realize what relationship violence is. It’s important to educate the students as well as faculty and staff to understand what constitutes relationship violence, sexual assault and domestic violence in our state,” University Police Detective Lt. Jane Tutor said.
“What we hope is that through educating we can prevent crimes of this nature from occurring,” Keena said.
The Violence Prevention Center is located in 208 Odom Hall.