By COLLEEN SULLIVAN
The UMW Office of Title IX recently received a $300,000 grant from the Office of Violence against Women in 2016. With these funds, the Office of Title IX is working to broaden its scope on campus by holding events and diversifying their mediums of outreach to students.
Such events include their “Mocktails” stand at this year’s Homecoming, which supplied non-alcoholic beverages such as cold-brew coffee, lemonade, water and other fancy beverages, all free of charge. Another program that all students partake in is the Title IX online training that is completed before coming to the University.
“Compared to the trainings my friends at other colleges had to do, ours was easier and more pleasurable to go through,” said freshman Grace Green. “It was interactive and colorful, which made it an intriguing reiteration of things I’d learned in the past.”
This online training was made available to UMW students in 2015 due to a federal mandate, Campus SAVE Act. The UMW Title IX website states, “[The online training] covers aspects of healthy and unhealthy relationships, a few UMW policies, Title IX, resources and other important information… It is one tool we use to educate students and promote safety.”
Title IX Coordinator Tiffany Oldfield and Title IX Project Coordinator, Britnae Purdy, collaborated to provide accurate, up-to-date information regarding the presence of Title IX on campus and their vision of the program for the purposes of this article.
With the grant, the Office of Title IX hopes to expand on its collaboration with other facilities, both on campus and in surrounding areas. For example, Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) is one partnership that the office wishes to strengthen.
According to the website’s information page, RCASA is a Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania area program that aids sexual assault survivors with therapy and reaches out to the community to provide education. Another organization, Empowerhouse, provides numerous resources specifically for domestic violence survivors. Their website explains that their area of assistance extends to Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, King George and Stafford areas. The services listed online include, “free and confidential 24-hour hotline, a temporary emergency shelter, information, referrals and advocacy.”
Connections with local advocacy and prevention organizations will help the Office of Title IX to increase their resources and ability to help students of this university.
Other major changes include the addition of the Community Coordinated Response Team (CCRT), Project Coordinator and Case Manager, as well as a relocation to Fairfax House. The CCRT was made possible by the grant and Oldfield says that it is comprised of students, faculty, staff, administrators and community partners.
“The team is tasked with coordinating prevention and intervention efforts; facilitating communication between key campus departments and community partners; ensuring messages across efforts are consistent and reinforced; and ensuring the system’s response to victims and survivors is seamless, consistent and supportive,” said Oldfield.
The project coordinator facilitates a working partnership with the Office of Violence against Women and works towards the goals established in the grant. The third grant-funded position is the role of Case Manager and Victim Advocate, who works with those affected by harassment based on gender, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.
The Case Manager also teams up with RCASA and Empowerment to provide all the resources possible to victims. Fairfax House is the new home of the Office of Title IX as of this semester.
On Nov. 8, there will be an open house to invite community members, students and university staff to learn more about the Office of Title IX and to see the new location. It will also serve as a time to educate attendees about the purpose of the grant and what the office hopes to accomplish. Art projects will also be displayed which Tiffany Oldfield says this is to, “encourage folks to reflect on their role in preventing gender-based violence on campus.”
The Office of Title IX has a lot more events in store for UMW students throughout this year. In December, in conjunction with stress-free zones, the office will be hosting a “Cocoa and Consent.” Come spring semester, SAE will be helping the office host a bystander intervention training for student leadership summits. The office will also take part in a collaborative art exhibit on the UMW campus, since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Office of Title IX will focus on that specifically.