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Rutgers increases services, research, support to address sexual misconduct

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In an email to the Rutgers community, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Lee announced that the University was taking measures to study sexual misconduct and prevent future incidents. 

"Sexual misconduct remains a serious problem throughout society and on our nation’s college campuses," Lee said in the email. 

Sexual violence education activities and victim support services at Rutgers have been funded for the past two years by the New Jersey Attorney General's office through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). The VOCA funding has been renewed for an additional two years, at $2.5 million annually, Lee said.

These federal grants also support Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) offices on each of the four campuses at the University. The award also allows the University to increase staff and resources within the compliance and Title IX offices.

"We have launched campaigns to inform students, faculty and staff about all our programs and services to address and eliminate relationship violence. Incoming students have received online training about sexual and dating violence. And we have provided support services for hundreds of community members," Lee said. 

This past year, the Rutgers School of Social Work and Center on Violence Against Women and Children hosted a conference for administrators in colleges and high schools to share various approaches to campus sexual violence and education, another instance of a program to address sexual misconduct. 

Lee said the renewal of the grant would help the University to target outreach to more students, specifically LGBTQ+, graduate and international students. Money from the grant would also increase faculty and staff training on campus violence and resources, as well as increase outreach to victims of other crime at Rutgers.

In total, state and University investment throughout the four years will be more than $11 million.

"Rutgers has long been a leader among our peer universities in both our research on sexual violence and in the support we offer students. We opened the Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance office in New Brunswick 18 years ago, and we have implemented groundbreaking programs to raise awareness about sexual violence on campus such as SCREAM Theater and bystander training at New Student Orientation," Lee said.

Five years ago, faculty from Rutgers were selected by the White House to participate in a campus climate survey of students on sexual violence, so that it could be modeled for the country. Survey work has continued for students on the Rutgers campuses and faculty has also been advising others on the issue due to their expertise, Lee said. 

As an example, Sarah McMahon, a professor at the Rutgers School of Social Work, is testifying this week at a hearing for sexual harassment.

University President Robert L. Barchi has also asked Lee herself to chair a new University-wide committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Culture Change.

"Please be assured of our ongoing — and increasing — commitment to providing outstanding and effective services to educate, inform, protect, empower and support members of our community in confronting sexual misconduct. And if you, or someone you know, should need assistance in any way related to sexual violence or relationship abuse, please reach out to our VPVA offices Rutgers—New Brunswick, Rutgers—Camden, Rutgers—Newark and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences to begin to get the help you need," Lee said.

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