On the heels of our previous blog entry on sexual assault for April, which is sexual assault awareness month, we have good news from a new SIUE staff member whose job is entirely focused on this and related issues. Meet Samantha Dickens. She has kindly provided her contact information at the bottom in case you want to get ahold of her.
Greetings, SIUe students, faculty, and staff!
SIUe competed for and was awarded the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant in October 2016, allowing us to create the Prevention Education and Advocacy Center (PEACe) and hire a program coordinator: myself, Samantha Dickens. The VAWA grant is facilitated through the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), and the act has existed for over twenty years. During this time, OVW has refined the grant process based on research and critical analysis of that research, creating a three year grant with multiple structured trainings for the grant team and access to a point of contact with OVW and technical assistants who are experts in their fields of strategic planning, prevention education, cultural competency, and several other topics.
Faculty and staff from across our campus–including the Women’s Studies program and many other sources–have come together to form a grant team with specialists in conduct, law enforcement, prevention education, and victim services. We are spreading our net wide to work from a socioecological model and an intersectional lens, incorporating multiple organizations and departments into the curriculum that we are building to provide peer education training to students. In order to have a comprehensive gender-based violence (GBV) prevention curriculum, we know that it is vital to work with student organizations across campus, including fraternity and sorority life, athletics, international students, Disability Support Services, and SafeZone among many others. We know as well that collaborating with academic departments such as Women’s Studies, Psychology, Counseling, Social Work, CSPA, Public Health, and many others will contribute to a more effective and engaging curriculum.
Though creating a prevention curriculum is a pivotal aspect of our grant, we are also working to coordinate awareness programming, policy revision, education for faculty and staff, and marketing our message. Much of this will be done through our Coordinated Community Care Response Team (C3RT) which is comprised of representatives from several Student Affairs and Academic Affairs offices across campus. The bulk of the C3RT work will be done through subcommittees that will meet throughout the year, and anyone working for or attending SIUe may join those subcommittees.
PEACe is a growing and active part of this campus after only a few months, and you may see the PEACe Coordinator at campus events, simply attending and getting to know the students or providing information at a table. You may hear her speak in your class about gender-based violence (GBV), consent, bystander intervention, or a variety of other topics related to GBV or see her collaborating with other campus organizations to provide trainings to faculty and staff on violence, trauma, and working with survivors.
PEACe is a program built for students: to volunteer, to intern, and to work. Students can apply to be peer educators by tabling events, joining the C3RT, attending peer educator training, and any number of other activities. The PEACe office is open for students to use as a resource center, and, as we grow, there will be books, videos, and other educational resources available. Currently, students may come to the office to ask questions, inquire about opportunities with the program, and to work with each other on projects related to gender-based violence (GBV).
As the new PEACe Coordinator, welcome to all students, staff, and faculty who would like to take part in PEACe.
Samantha Dickens, MSW
Prevention Education and Advocacy Center