The U.S. Department of Justice awarded Loyola University with $300,000 in support of various programs concentrated on combating violence against women in 2009. After a 34-page application process, the grant was renewed, as of Sept. 2012, for $270,000.
The Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on Campus Program, which made this funding possible, has been working actively on the subject for many years, specifically on college campuses.
Each year, multiple cases are reported to the Loyola sexual assault advocacy line, Campus Safety and local police. From Jan. 1, 2012 to June 20, 2012, 12 calls came into the advocacy line and four cases of gender-based violence were reported to either Loyola or Chicago officers.
Stephanie Atella, a health educator at Loyola’s Wellness Center who filled out the application request for the money, feels the grant is a step in the right direction for addressing important issues on campus.
“It’s important for us to be addressing the issues and have the funds because it is just a reality of college campuses — there are people who are being sexually assaulted, and there are people who are experiencing dating violence and stalking, so it’s not just something we can ignore,” she said.
In order to qualify for the grant, the institution must go through the formal application process, which includes planning specific programs and projects, documenting exactly how the money will be used and getting signatures from community partners. Essentially, a compelling case must be presented to the Department of Justice in order to receive funds.
Atella also pointed out the many key players who signed off on the grant, including Rev. Michael S. Garanzini S.J., Vice President of Student Development Robert D. Kelly and Dean of the School of Law David N. Yellen, increasing its chances of getting approved. From outside the community, advocates in the YWCA of Evanston North Shore and Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office have been working on this grant for the past three years.
“We are just lucky enough to have people in high places who think these types of issues are a priority for our students,” she said.
As the various programs and events are not fully confirmed, specific information about how the grant will be implemented are not yet available. However, according to Atella, programs the grant will go to include creating training videos for Campus Safety officers for instruction on dealing with gender-based violence, booking big-name speakers and ordering promotional items within the Wellness Center that ensure students have materials with resources listed on them. Loyola is also planning on hiring a graduate assistant dedicated to supporting and seeing out this work, which will hopefully aid in creating systems that will have a lasting impact on Loyola’s campus.
Students on campus voiced their appreciation for the grant and feel that this is indeed something that needs to be addressed further.
“I am happy to see that the Illinois government is taking sexual assault extremely seriously … Prevention and proper education on the matter is extremely important and I am glad to see that these have been included in the grant,” said Harrison Hayes, 20-year-old sophomore communication studies major.
Sophomore biology major Caroline Starczewski, 19, agreed.
“Loyola receiving funds to stop violence against women is an excellent idea because it shows support on our part,” said Starczewski. “Receiving funds in support of any cause is a beautiful thing because we’re using funds to help people.”
Another student, Daniel Beintema, 19-year-old freshman biology major, thinks that the renewal was necessary because the issue still continues.
“I think although we’ve already gotten a lot of money being put in for stopping violence against women, I don’t really know if it’s enough a lot of the time,” he said.
Atella said she hopes for the grant to be utilized in ways that contribute to a better campus culture.
“We are living in a culture that supports gender violence — we certainly don’t live in a bubble, but we can do work to make sure that Loyola is a place where certain language, behavior and attitudes aren’t tolerated, and we become a campus that is free of these types of violence,” she said.
by Susie Moskop