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MIT Receives Grant to Prevent Violence

By Kirtana Raja

MIT received a $200,000 Violence Against Women grant this year from the Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women. MIT Health Educator Laura A. Stuart said that the grant is expected to fund new programs and services, as well as improve MIT policies concerning the issues of sexual assault, violence in dating and stalking.

The grant money will be used to accomplish four general goals: to establish a Community Response Group (CRG), train campus police and update their violence response equipment, develop a campus policy on sexual violence, and create programs to train incoming undergraduate and graduate students and develop a new protocol for MIT Medical to treat violence victims. Stuart said that the police department is thrilled with the grant and is moving quickly towards training their staff and obtaining the needed equipment.

The grant was first announced in August of this year by William M. Kettyle, director of MIT Medical, who recognized both Stuart and Maryanne Kirkbride, clinical director for campus life, as key players in leading the effort to obtain this grant. This is the first year that MIT applied for the two-year grant.

Stuart will serve as the director of any projects stemming from the grant, with help from Kirkbride. A coordinated community response group, composed of both adults and students, has been formed and has discussed possible ways to conduct a session about violence against women for freshman orientation next year, with names of possible speakers suggested. The committee also has general ideas about possible programs to train faculty, staff, and students, including a proposed freshman life skills seminar.

Meetings address protocol

The Center for Health Promotion and Wellness of MIT Medical held the first of a series of three Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Coordinated Community Response Groups on Sept. 20 and hosted the second meeting on Oct. 19.

One of the grant’s goals, a new protocol for MIT Medical staff to tend to victims of violence crimes, was reviewed at the second meeting, Stuart said. She said that the protocol is in the process of being amended following suggestions proposed at the CRG meeting and will be approved and implemented soon.

In addition to the members of the grant proposal committee, meeting attendees included representatives from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, the Asian Taskforce Against Domestic Violence, and the Victim Witness Services Bureau of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, as well as over 40 groups based at MIT.

“I’m excited about the formal collaboration between MIT and the local organizations,” Stuart said. These local centers already receive students from MIT, but now they can provide MIT with more perspectives on violence crimes against women, as well as information about programs other local colleges have in place.

The CRG first came together at the September meeting, when all questions about the grant were answered by Stuart and others on the grant proposal committee. Current programs at MIT that deal with violence against women were also discussed. Stuart said that this meeting was the first time at MIT that so many people from different groups participated in a discussion on the subject.

“In my opinion, the thing that is going to make this grant work is student involvement,” Stuart said, because students can become involved with the grant and the CRG, as well as submit ideas for effectively using the money.