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Higher ed partnership results in ‘Shared Responsibility’ grant


A group of southeast Ohio colleges and universities has joined together to provide a safe campus environment through prevention of sexual violence. The “Inspiring a Community of Shared Responsibility” initiative will bring four institutions together with funding for training and awareness aimed at students, faculty and staff. The project is part of the Changing Campus Culture initiative in Ohio.

The lead institution, University of Rio Grande / Rio Grande Community College, asked Ohio University Southern to join the consortium, which also includes Shawnee State University and Southern State Community College. Together, the four post-secondary partners will develop a campaign based on the theme, “See, Hear, Speak.”

The Ohio Department of Higher Education funded the $65,000 grant, which seeks to strengthen the ability of the four campuses to respond to and ultimately prevent sexual assault. A work group of faculty and staff from the partner schools is already establishing the foundation for the project. Students from the four institutions will also be part of developing the awareness campaign.

“We want to incorporate students in the ‘See, Hear, Speak’ awareness campaign because the project’s success depends on how campaign messages are received,” said Sarah Diamond Burroway, director of external relations for Ohio University Southern. Burroway served on the grant writing team, which was led by Rio Grande’s grant coordinator, Ian Blache.

The campaign will include a video that the four campuses will utilize as part of the awareness activities. The Electronic Media Program of Ohio University Southern will produce the video, which will incorporate students, faculty and staff from the four consortium schools. A second video will also be produced so the project can share a theatrical performance as part of “See, Hear, Speak” with multiple audiences.

Robert Pleasant, associate director of the Student Resource Commons at Ohio University Southern, said ensuring a safe learning and working environment is paramount in higher education.

“This means a campus free from sexual harassment and sexual assault on all levels,” Pleasant said.

The “Inspiring a Community of Shared Responsibility” project for southeast Ohio will include a series of lunchtime trainings at each of the partner institutions, as well as a conference focused on Title IX. The conference will be for students, faculty, staff and others like law enforcement and social service providers. 

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault. A college or university that receives federal funds may be held legally responsible when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities. The school can be held responsible in court whether the harassment is committed by a faculty member, staff or a student.

For more information about the Ohio Changing Campus Culture movement, visit https://www.ohiohighered.org/ccc.