Aquinas College receives $292K federal grant to make campus safer for women

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Aquinas College is launching a new program that’s designed to make campus safer for women by reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus.

The college has received a three-year, $292,096 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to help with its efforts to increase campus safety, Aquinas announced in an October news release.

With the help of local police and community resources, Aquinas plans to launch a three-year program that focuses on communication about, prevention of, and response to sexual assaults, dating/domestic violence, and stalking on campus, college officials said.

Aquinas President Alicia Córdoba, the college’s first female president, said campus safety is a top priority for college leaders.

“Providing a safe environment for our students and staff is critical to Aquinas,” Córdoba said in a prepared statement. “Our campus must be an inclusive, safe, and secure place for learning. I’m pleased that this grant will help us increase awareness and prevent crimes of this nature.”

To help with these efforts, Aquinas will expand its partnership with the YWCA West Central Michigan and the Grand Rapids Police Department. The new grant funding will allow the college to increase staff capacity for those agencies to create a more robust safety response, the release said.

The new program will be overseen by Alicia Lloyd, Dean of Students, and managed on a day-to-day basis by a Project Director, the college said.

As part of the program, Aquinas will launch a Coordinated Community Response (CCR) team that will provide comprehensive victim services to students including Crisis Help, Support Groups, Counseling/Therapy, and Rape Exam/Medical Help, according to the release.

The CCR team will offer on-campus programs, initiatives, and campaigns intended to end dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, the release said.

The grant funding will also allow Aquinas to deploy a comprehensive and varied training program for all students, employees, staff, and law enforcement.

GRPD Capt. Joseph Trigg said the department is glad to cooperate with the new program.

“I look forward to collaborating with Aquinas College and providing the necessary resources to ensure the safety of its students on and around campus,” Trigg said in a prepared statement.

Charisse Mitchell, CEO of YWCA West Central Michigan, agreed.

“The strength of any community is found in the people and institutions like Aquinas College that inspire intellectual curiosity, lifelong learning, leadership, service, and respect for the dignity of all people,” Mitchell said in the release.

“YWCA West Central Michigan is pleased to share decades of experience and service to thousands of survivors, and work with Aquinas College to improve the health and well-being of communities on and off-campus through increased awareness and prevention.”

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