During the 2016 – 2017 year, Gettysburg College was awarded funding in the amount of $299,093 under the “Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on Campus Program. Additionally, we received a $25,502.00 grant as part of the Governor’s It’s On Us PA Grant Program.
The Department of Justice grant will enable our campus and community partners to offer additional prevention initiatives and direct support to students who have been impacted by sexual and relationship violence. Thanks in part to this grant; the College will be able to have better partnerships to work on addressing these issues with groups such as Survivors, Inc., medical staff, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Gettysburg Police Department.
In addition to programming, the College has been able to bring on two key positions to move this work forward.
Valentina Cucuzza, the Grant Project Coordinator leads all communication and coordination for on- and off-campus victims’ resources. Her role is to ensure that information flows freely among all offices and those efforts are not being duplicated amongst our many dedicated on-campus partners in violence prevention. A key priority in the first year of the grant will be to establish and implement our campus Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT) which is a multidisciplinary team of campus and community partners that meet regularly to assess, plan, monitor, and evaluate campus prevention and response efforts. Prior to receiving this grant, the SVHR Committee (Sexual Violence Healthy Relationships) was functioning as a CCRT. The Grant Project Coordinator will build upon the groundwork already established by our SVHR Committee. New external partners who will be joining our newly formed SVHR/CCRT group include a SAFE nurse from Gettysburg Hospital, the Assistant District Attorney for Adams County (who handles all local criminal cases for sexual assault/domestic violence related cases), representatives from the Gettysburg Police Department (local law enforcement) and our recently hired Victims’ Services Advocate (VSA) from Survivors, Ms. Jessica Ritter.
The VSA position is the second position funded by the DOJ/OVW grant. This position, held by Jessica Ritter, allows an advocate from Survivors Inc. to work at the college part time during the school year.
This position serves as a confidential resource for students on campus, and does not have to report instances of domestic violence, sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, etc. to campus authorities, except if there is suspected child abuse or if there is an imminent risk of harm to self or others. The VSA offers confidential crisis intervention, facilitates an on-campus support group, makes referrals as needed, and provides accompaniment to medical and legal appointments as requested by students, staff, and faculty of Gettysburg College. If a person wishes, the VSA is able to inform them about the process of making an official report with the college, as well as the process of filing charges with the police.
This position will work with the Grant Project Coordinator for Sexual/Relationship Violence Prevention, the Title IX Coordinator, and the Office of College Life to coordinate educational activities, trainings, and programs on campus focusing on prevention and awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence. This position also works with different departments, groups, and/or organizations on campus to provide presentations to classes and/or meetings, as requested. The VSA also helps with the development, expansion, and implementation of policies and procedures that are aimed at issues of violence on campus.
The It’s On Us PA grant will allow Gettysburg College to offer Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Systems Training to faculty, staff,administrators, and students.
Additionally, we will offer Trauma-Informed training as part of Title IX/Clery/Work Place Harassment training to all employees of the institution. This training will help faculty and employees better understand ways in which they can support victims in class, at work, on teams, in clubs, and through other campus settings. Our aim is to offer a training that will help employees understand the immediate psychological and physiological response to trauma and its threats, become aware of the prolonged impact of trauma on thoughts, feelings, perceptions and memory, and consider ways to reduce the potential for our students to be re-traumatized by comments, materials, investigations, or other forms of contact we may have with students.