Macalester awarded sexual violence prevention grant

Macalester awarded sexual violence prevention grant

Kamini Ramakrishna and Emma Salomon

On Nov. 15, an announcement in the Mac Daily told the community that Macalester had been awarded $300,000 from the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). This grant is intended to support the prevention of and response to instances of sexual assault and domestic violence on campus.

Macalester applied for the grant in March 2019 with the help of the then-Title IX Coordinator Regina Curran. Curran emphasized the need for students to be more connected to resources outside of campus. 

“My hope with this grant was that it would push Macalester toward better integration with support resources and hopefully make the pathways for connecting with those resources easier,” Curran said in Macalester’s press release about the grant. “Individuals who experience violence need more than just the Title IX office and I think this will be a great step in helping close that gap.”

The project, entitled “Integrating Resources: Comprehensive, Coordinated Campus Prevention & Response,” is facilitated by Jennifer Jacobsen, the director of health promotion and sexual respect, with help from Macalester’s Title IX office and the Laurie Hamre Center for Health & Wellness. 

Jacobsen noted three main focuses of the project’s actions; the first will be centering the needs of students of color, international students, LGBTQ+ students and students with disabilities. The project also plans to increase collaboration across departments and with community resources. 

“Our goal through the grant was to create an opportunity to partner with local agencies and have advocates with a diversity of identities have some time to have a physical presence on campus to be more easily accessed by students,” Jacobsen wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s OVW was founded in 1995 and aims to provide leadership and financial aid in an effort to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. They oversee federal grant programs such as the one that Macalester applied to. 

The particular grant that Macalester applied to was one of the OVW’s Discretionary Grant programs specifically for institutions of higher education. In this grant, the OVW creates parameters and decides eligibility, but the college has the final say in what the grant’s fund will support. 

The grant comes amid a larger discussion of Macalester students’ criticism of the Title IX office and its high rate of turnover among directors. There have been four Title IX directors since the resignation of Timothy Dunn as Title IX Bias and Harassment Coordinator after a student submitted a 30-page report of students’ complaints about the office’s lack of support from the office in April 2019. Most recently, Curran resigned in September 2021, with Caitlin Gehlen stepping in as interim coordinator.

Jacobsen stated that Macalester aims to improve their past response to Title IX issues with this grant. 

“Overall, we want to see the spectrum of prevention and response in the Macalester community be more trauma-informed, more culturally aware, and more accessible for all of our campus community members,” Jacobsen wrote.


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