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New Federal Grant to Help Georgian Court, Providence House Address Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault

Written t-shirts hanging of a board

Each year on the Georgian Court campus, the “Clothesline Project” increases awareness of the impact of violence against women, celebrates women’s strength, and provides women a chance to break the silence through messages written on T-shirts by victims and those who know them.

Three-Year Grant Will Support Range of Prevention and Intervention Programs

A new grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow Georgian Court University and several community partners to expand awareness and prevention programs related to sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and dating violence.

The $299,829 grant, distributed over three years, will support EMPOWER, Georgian Court’s sexual assault awareness and prevention programs. The grant also draws on commitments and participation from Providence House Domestic Violence Services, a division of Catholic Charities, and the Lakewood Police Department.

Under the grant, GCU, Providence House and the Lakewood Police Department will participate in the university’s coordinated community response (CCR) meetings and training efforts.

The federal funding is managed through the Office of Violence Against Women and its Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus. Nationally, the federal agency awarded 61 grants, including 45 to colleges and universities, to address sexual violence on campuses.

According to the Justice Department, the funds are intended to help organizations “deliver effective, comprehensive and coordinated strategies that help survivors heal; reduce campus sexual and domestic violence; and improve the institution’s response to these crimes.”

In addition, grant recipients are expected to offer a range of helpful services, including specialized training for campus security officers, healthcare providers, university housing personnel, and other first responders. On GCU’s campus, participants also include staffers from the GCU Counseling Center, student affairs, student leadership programs, and athletics.

“Georgian Court is fully committed to creating a safe, campus environment, and to providing the training and education needed to address sexual assault, domestic violence, and other difficult issues,” said GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.

“While our current programs are strong, this grant allows GCU—along with Providence House and the Lakewood Police Department—to make a lasting, impactful difference in how we approach prevention and response, advocacy and accountability.”

For example, Providence House, which has worked with GCU on collaborative projects in the past, will send a counselor to campus three days per week. While on campus, Providence House professionals will provide counseling, case management, and victim safety plans to anyone in need. Students in crisis will also get help with housing, education about abusive relationships, and legal options.

“This grant expands upon a solid foundation established between the GCU community and Providence House Domestic Violence Services, building in both a new level of prevention efforts and utilizing a coordinated response to intently focus on issues of domestic abuse, dating violence, stalking and sexual abuse on campus,” said Mary Pettrow, associate director for Providence House.

GCU will also conduct a climate survey, which is one of the national recommendations of the Clery Center, the nonprofit clearinghouse for campus crime statistics. Such climate surveys are intended to help colleges and universities gauge the “magnitude and nature of sexual victimization experienced by students,” according to the Office on Violence Against Women and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In partnership with PHDVS and the local police department, GCU will expand its mandatory prevention and education programs—currently required for freshmen—to include all incoming students and transfer students. A bystander prevention program will be created, and two training sessions each year will be held for campus law enforcement and campus disciplinary boards.

Substantive work and ongoing contributions on behalf of the participating organizations underscore the importance of addressing violence issues.

“This partnership rises from the shared core values of Catholic Charities and GCU and will bring a trauma-informed approach to meeting the needs of the campus community in terms of services, education, and awareness,” said Marlene Lao Collins, Executive Director, Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton.

“We are proud to work in partnership on this important endeavor.”

Read Mary Pettrow’s testimony to the members of the New Jersey Senate Higher Education Committee on December 12, 2016.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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