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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

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Ryan-Lombardi

Ryan Lombardi greeting students

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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University working hard to prevent sexual assaults

Full-time advocate and 24-hour hotline helping survivors 


Ohio University administration has been diligently working over the past several years to prevent sexual assaults on campus.

The University has implemented many educational and sexual assault prevention programs in recent years. Last year it hired its first program coordinator for the Survivor Advocacy Program, Lindsey Daniels, whose job was made possible by a three-year Violence Against Women in Campus grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

As the survivor advocacy program coordinator, Daniels serves as the primary advocate and education specialist for survivors of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking. This fall, her office implemented 24/7 confidential campus-based advocacy for victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic/dating violence and stalking.

Another key initiative in the campaign to end sexual violence on campus has been the Red Poster Campaign that is aimed at educating students about the laws pertaining to sexual violence.

Terry Koons, associate director of the Campus Involvement Center for health promotion, said the student-generated Red Poster Campaign's main goal is to create general awareness about sexual violations and to teach students how to help your friends get out of a risky situation. He said it is primarily focused on the bystander.

"Most of the sexual assaults on campus are related to high-risk drinking and people not legally getting consent, which an intoxicated person can't give," Koons said. "What we are asking students to do is step in and tell your friend 'this isn't a good time to do that' or help them get out of that situation."  

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said, "At Ohio University, we pride ourselves on providing the best student-centered learning experience in America, which demands a safe and healthy student environment.

To help foster that environment, we are taking a proactive stance against sexual and intimate partner violence.” 

Lombardi said national statistics on the number of sexual assaults on college campuses are staggering.

"They reveal that one out of every four female college students will experience some kind of attempted or completed sexual assault."

Lombardi said the statistics show that women between the ages 20 and 24 are at the highest risk of experiencing non-fatal intimate partner violence and women between 18- and 24-years old experience the highest rate of stalking victimization.

Here are some other ongoing efforts that the University is engaged in to support victims and survivors and to prevent sexual and intimate partner violence from occurring:

•    A Campus Community Response Team (CCRT) comprised of University and community partners charged with four target areas:

1. Reviewing/revising policies and procedures for responding to and preventing sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking.

2. Developing and implementing educational programming, awareness and outreach.

3. Providing sexual violence training for law enforcement, judicial boards and the campus community.

4. Maintaining consistent and quality continuity of care to create a survivor-empowered and safe campus.

•    A Relationship and Sexual Violence Coalition, which was created by the Dean of Students Office, that is charged to work collaboratively with the CCRT to:

a.    Communicate to the student body examples of sexual misconduct and the University's sanctioning guidelines for those found responsible of sexual misconduct.

b.    Inform faculty and staff of policies and protocols for responding to and reporting of sexual misconduct.

c.    Gauge the levels of relationship violence on campus and determine response and prevention efforts.

d.    Coordinate with the CCRT and Survivor Advocacy Program.

e.    Revision of Student Code of Conduct to better articulate definitions of sexual misconduct, rights of the accused and the complainant, and what remedial actions may be taken.

f.    Campus-based counseling and psychological services offering individual and group therapy.

g.    Campus-based law enforcement agency committed to training its officers, investigating reports, educating the campus and preventing sex based crimes.

h.    A Title IX Coordinator charged with monitoring the institution's compliance with federal regulations, specifically to respond, remediate and prevent sexual harassment.

i.    Peer Educators who provide programming on the continuum of sexual assault, what consent means, and bystander intervention.

j.    Peer Advocates who have been trained to respond to victims/survivors as well as provide programming on sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking.

k.    Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence each fall quarter put on by the Women’s Center.

l.    Take Back the Night March and Rally, a weeklong event with a number of activities and workshops organized through the Women's Affairs Commissioner of Student Senate.

m.    A week to sometimes a month of events in September for Campus Sexual Assault Awareness Month organized through Health Promotion in the Campus Involvement Center.

n.    Clear and consistent sexual misconduct sanctioning guidelines.

o.    Programs, visuals and events during April, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

p.    Collaboration with the local domestic violence shelter, victim's assistance, law enforcement, and emergency department to coordinate services and to train the campus community in best practices.

q.    Commitment to purchase and implement a mandatory online prevention program for all incoming students called "Student Success™ Unless There's Consent."

r.    Self Defense and Personal Safety workshops with a 30-year veteran trainer covering five areas of self defense including body language, verbal assertiveness and physical skills.

s.    Rape Aggression Defense program through the Ohio University Police Department.

t.    Use of social media, poster campaigns and print to foster a safe campus and communicate zero tolerance for actions and environments that condone, accept and/or promote sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking.

Lombardi said an informed campus community is in all our best interests.

"We are trying to create a culture shift on campus against random and relationship sexual violence," Lombardi said. "We're making progress, but we still have a long way to go."