Unexpected windfall deserves deliberation

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the University’s Program Against Sexual Violence a grant for $38,000 on Monday. This grant, the largest ever received by the group, is a well-deserved award for a crucial campus group. PASV should carefully consider how the money can be best spent.
PASV, established in 1986, is an organization that works to prevent sexual violence at the University and to help those who have already been victimized. It is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week crisis-response center staffed mainly by volunteer students located at Boynton Health Service.
In the last three-and-one-half months, the program has helped 53 people. Nineteen of those were concerned persons — people worried about friends and relatives involved in sexual violence. Thirty-four were victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment and stalking. At least 80 percent of those served were students.
The group plans to use the money from the grant to improve the services they offer. “The grant will help provide expanded services to victim-survivors and greatly enhance our prevention efforts on campus,” said Jamie Tiedemann, director of the victim-advocacy program. The group currently plans to spend most of the grant on improving services for people with disabilities and helping victims file court orders against perpetrators.
In order to better serve people with disabilities, the program plans to install a phone line for the hearing impaired and to provide a sign-language interpreter. “We want to accomplish a major outreach for students with disabilities who have experienced sexual violence,” said Tiedemann.
Although each of these areas will help the program to better serve students, it is important that the group is careful to consider how the campus would be best served with the grant money.
Recently, there have been a number of incidents of sexual violence on and around the University campus. In April 1999, a Centennial Hall resident was allegedly sexually assaulted. In September someone assaulted a 27-year-old woman in a restroom in Nicholson Hall. These are only a few of the incidents that have kept police and organizations like PASV busy.
There is a need at the University for better communication regarding sexually violent activities on campus. Students and staff need to be better informed about these sexual crimes that occur on or around campus. While there was an official criminal alert on Sept. 12, very little was done to make the general University community aware of the alert.
A portion of this grant would be well spent on working to better inform students and staff of sexually violent activities on campus and the programs offered by both PASV and the Women’s Center. This action might help to prevent further occurrences on campus while better advertising others, such as the underpublicized alert.
PASV is essential to the well-being of students on and around the University. This grant will help PASV better serve the University community. The ideas that have been presented by the program as ways to use the money are sound, but the issue of informing students and staff should also be considered.