UC Berkeley establishes grant program to address sexual violence

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Micah Carroll/Staff

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In a new effort to combat sexual harassment and violence on campus, UC Berkeley will be awarding grants to establish community-based initiatives to address these persisting issues.

The campus PATH to Care Center, in a partnership with the Violence Prevention Collaborative, will be awarding 10 grants of up to $2,500 to teams of four to 12 people to create campaigns addressing social norms on sexual violence. Projects will address an “intact community,” which could include members of a sports team, participants in Greek life or, in broader terms, groups such as the queer community or a cultural group, according to Elizabeth Wilmerding, a prevention intern at PATH.

Wilmerding said the projects should be focused on the ways people can contribute to their specific communities and could include a poster campaign, use of digital media or a series of educational events or workshops.

Virginia Duplessis, assistant director of prevention at PATH to Care Center, said the campus’s focus has often been centered on response efforts regarding instances of sexual assault. She said the awarded grants will “use evidence-based strategies to promote prevention,” rather than focus on response.

Dr. Keith Edwards, an educator and speaker on sexual violence prevention, will give a talk on campus Oct. 27.

“Sexual violence is integrated in culture, we would like to think that people who commit sexual violence are deviant, but when you really look at it, the culture teaches people to behave in these ways,” Edwards said.

The PATH center, along with other campus groups, received funding for the grants last spring as part of an initiative by UC Berkeley to develop resources for sexual assault prevention and survivor support. This funding also arrives amid various high-profile cases of sexual assault on campus.

Daniel Saedi, president of the Interfraternity Council, commended the many student-led efforts as well as the educational programs that exist on campus but said broader change will need to be effected at the administrative level.

“(These are) big-time issues, we’re talking about felony crimes that are happening in our community,” Saedi said. “These are huge acts of violence that are occurring. We need more than just small grants to address that.”

According to Duplessis, the PATH center is involved in other prevention activities across campus, including various student committees and faculty groups that meet to address and provide education on sexual violence prevention. Similar “social norm marketing” approaches can be seen around campus in the “Bears that Care” initiative, which hosts bystander prevention workshops, and the “It’s on Us” marketing campaign, which features signs throughout campus with messages from community members regarding sexual violence.

The PATH to Care Center hosted a workshop Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., attended by four UC Berkeley affiliates, to go over the application process and allow potential applicants to ask questions about the grants. Applications are currently available at the PATH center, and on its website, and will close Nov. 7 at 5 p.m.

Contact Camryn Bell and Revati Thatte at [email protected].