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Gender Equity Center receives grant from U.S. Department of Justice to curb stalking, sexual violence

Heather Witt, Kyrsti Wyatt, Adriane Bang and Chris Wuthrich recently received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. As the Gender Equity Center Director, Bang will serve as the principal investigator for the grant which will fund a new project director position. This position will head cross-campus and community collaboration on preventing and responding to stalking, sexual assault and relationship violence, as well as develop educational materials and marketing for campus-wide campaigns.

The training and technical expertise offered through this grant will allow Boise State to build on the newly formed Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT), which includes partnerships with students and between relevant campus departments: Gender Equity Center, Dean of Students, Housing and Residence Life, Student Involvement and Leadership Center, Student Diversity and Inclusion, College of Health Sciences, University Health Services, Department of Public Safety, and the Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics. This group also includes student representatives and community organizations: the Boise Police Department, Faces of Hope, and the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. Following a year of training, assessing and planning, the team will develop a strategic plan for the university to reduce incidents of interpersonal violence, and improve policies and systems with which victims/survivors interact.

While there is not currently stalking specific educational programming for students, stalking will be a priority focus for these efforts. Idaho has one of the highest reported rates of stalking in the country and Boise State Clery data shows that more incidents of stalking were reported in 2019 than other forms of interpersonal violence. The project director will partner with the National Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center and grant funding will allow for the development of stalking-specific programming and formal training for students, university staff, and community organizations.

Multiple voluntary training opportunities will be available for current students, faculty and staff, as well as mandatory education components for all incoming and transfer students. Additionally, faculty, staff, student employees, and security and police officers will participate in annual training on trauma-informed responses to incidents of dating or domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The goals of these training sessions are to increase the understanding of intimate partner violence and stalking definitions, impacts, and warning signs, to empower the community to intervene, and to improve the university’s response to reported incidents.