SEPTEMBER 17, 2007

HOME

$1 Million ECU grant, regional universities to help
prevent violence against women

A $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice has been awarded to East Central University to develop a program with the five other universities in the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) to help prevent violence against women.

ECU, the flagship institution acting on behalf of RUSO, was notified by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women that ECU and sister institutions Northeastern State University, the University of Central Oklahoma and Northwestern, Southeastern and Southwestern Oklahoma State Universities will share the grant and establish the Regional University System of Oklahoma Violence Prevention Project.

It is the first attempt in the Oklahoma system of higher education to collectively and collaboratively address the state’s widespread levels of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

“This is the first grant of its kind that includes all six of our universities,” said RUSO Regent Ann Holloway of Ardmore. “I think this is great and I hope it’s the beginning of many more. It’s so good to benefit the whole system and spread it out all over the state.

“Our system has more than 41,000 students and serves 66 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties,” she added. “By combining our efforts, we hope to make a big impact on preventing violence against women.”

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reported in 2004 that domestic violence and abuse reports increased 31.8 percent in the state between 1995 and 2004.

Funds from the three year-grant, which is for $999,999, will be used to hire a project director at ECU and a coordinator at each campus, develop an educational campus program and provide extensive training for campus police and personnel.

“We all strive for our campuses to be safe and our students to be able to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations or behaviors,” said ECU President Richard Rafes. “We need to educate our students about this problem. I think the benefits of this program will extend beyond the six campuses.”

ECU is the only one of the RUSO universities that already has a specific program about preventing violence against women. The Campus Initiative to Reduce Crime Against Women (CIRCAW) was created through two consecutive grants from the Office on Violence Against Women, and its success is the reason ECU was invited to apply for the new RUSO-VPP grant, said Dr. Steve Turner, interim vice president for finance and administration and the lead author of the grant proposal.

“The RUSO-VPP grant is one of only three of these kinds of grants awarded this year by the Justice Department,” Turner said. “The potential impact over three years is very significant. RUSO enrolls approximately 6,500 first-time freshmen each year, which means that approximately 19,500 freshmen could be served during the grant period.”

The idea is to promote collaboration within campus departments, academic advisors, outreach sites, victim service organizations, criminal justice agencies, law enforcement and tribal government by addressing the needs of female victims of crime on campuses and their outreach sites.

Contact: Jill Frye, ECU, (580) 310-5650