by Reggie Bourn, SJC Press Room
The United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women awarded Saint Joseph’s College of Maine a three-year, $299,884 grant to fund programming that enhances prevention of, awareness of, and response to a range of sexual misconduct that can occur in a college community, including: sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking. This is one of 57 grants totaling over $18 million to higher education institutions nationwide. With the new funding, the entire College community will experience training, in partnership with Through These Doors and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, and facilitated by Coordinator for Violence Prevention Sarah Gordon who started her new position last week. This DOJ grant is designed to support community coordination, strategic planning, and competency-based education around all issues of violence on a college campus.
Coordinator for Violence Prevention Sarah Gordon–a 2011 alumna–has worked with Family Crisis Services in Portland (now referred to as Through These Doors) and at the University of Southern Maine, coordinating a similar DOJ grant. Gordon said, “This campus-wide effort at Saint Joseph’s College will address response initiatives and bring violence prevention education to students, staff, and faculty in order to create a safer campus for everyone. It is critical work that needs to happen on all college campuses and in every community here in Maine.”
“The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be partnering with Saint Joseph’s College on their Sexual Violence Prevention program. There is no excuse for domestic and sexual violence, in general, and especially on any college campus. We look forward to working with College staff, students and our other community partners to keep Saint Joseph’s College a safe learning environment,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce.
Dean of Campus Life and Title IX Officer Dr. Matthew Goodwin said, “I know Sarah will do great things with members of our community and we’re excited to have her back “home” as a Monk. Educating, training, and empowering students, faculty, and staff to ultimately end sexual violence and harassment is not only the intent of this U.S. Department of Justice grant, it’s also a moral responsibility connected to our College’s spiritual identity.”
For many years, Saint Joseph’s College has incorporated sexual violence prevention programming into the orientation of new students, student-athletes, and employees. And yet, even a small, rural college with a tight-knit community and a strong social justice ethos can experience cases of sexual misconduct. Between 2014 and 2017, five cases of forcible rape were reported at Saint Joseph’s College.
President Dlugos said, “We’re not satisfied with the results of our current prevention efforts. Our mission calls for the creation of a safe and just place for all. We need to do more.”
The week of February 25th, seven Saint Joseph’s College staff members travel to San Diego, California for a three-day Training and Technical Institute hosted by the Office of Violence Against Women. Participants will experience training from national experts to create problem-solving strategies for a range of challenges. This training is the first of three similar institutes that will be held during the first year of the grant, which is dedicated to strategic planning for future implementation.
Attendees include: Sarah Gordon- Violence Prevention Coordinator, John Porter-Director of Residence Life, Christine LeMoult-Area Coordinator, Liz Wiesen- Director of Counseling Center, David Lischer- Counseling Center LCSW, Matthew Goodwin-Dean of Campus Life, Joseph Washuk-Assistant Director of Campus Safety.
For information about Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s academic programs that address the social causes of violence, the impacts of violence, and strategies for justice–see https://www.sjcme.edu/academics/.
About Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy in Portland, Maine, Saint Joseph’s College is Maine’s Catholic liberal arts college with a commitment to sustainability and wellness. The 474-acre campus, located on the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine offers more than 40 undergraduate programs and a nationally renown Division III athletic program to a population of approximately 1,000 on-campus students. The College provides certificates and undergraduate and advanced degrees for thousands more working adults who reside throughout the United States and in more than 20 other countries through an online learning program. In 2018 Princeton Review named SJC one of America’s “Greenest Colleges” and in 2015 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognized the College’s focus on community service through its mission and daily interactions with local, regional, and global communities with the Community Engagement Classification. For more information, see www.sjcme.edu