Goshen College was awarded a $299,904 grant on Sept. 23 from the U.S. Department of Justice through the Office on Violence Against Women to fund a project expanding campus resources for domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking (DVDVSAS). The grant runs from Oct 1. 2022, to Sept 30. 2025.The project seeks to increase awareness and support methods on and off campus and to improve campus coordination through partnerships while creating programs for specific communities, such as Latinx students.
“These changes will address the gaps identified … by building and demonstrating the institutional capacity to prevent and respond to DVDVSAS,” said Gilberto Perez Jr, vice president of student life.
GC currently offers many student resources, including residence life directors who staff a 24-hour helpline for victims and provide accommodations for survivors, like room relocations for residential students and campus housing for commuter students.
The college has multiple community partnerships, such as the Goshen Police Department and Mosaic Health & Healing Arts. Through these partnerships, GC hopes to strengthen the support given to DVDVSAS victims.
“This grant will help provide some joint training … [in] supporting victims of sexual violence,” said Beth Martin Birky, Title IX coordinator.
Perez emphasized counseling resources on campus, noting that students can schedule an appointment to meet with a counselor. During the nights and weekends, one counselor remains on-call or may refer them to a community provider.
GC often referred victims to connect with the Elkhart County YWCA, but its doors closed years ago. Perez said that “This project would bring an external service on campus.”
Incoming first-year students must participate in PIN’s (Prevention Intervention Network) peer education program. Still, Martin Birky explained that efforts are not reaching specific campus groups — athletes, LGBTQ, Latinx and commuter students.
“Our population of [Latinx students] has grown significantly,” Martin Birky said. “There are unique access issues in terms of language and culture. You need resources that are accessible, are relevant to people’s experience.”
This project hopes to translate materials to improve accessibility for Spanish-speaking families.
Martin Birky also mentioned the importance of recognizing differences for LGBTQ individuals, who experience sexual violence at a “much higher rate than heterosexual, cisgender people do.”
One way they are seeking to support LGBTQ individuals is by connecting with outside organizations for best practices and creating a curriculum that is effective and well-founded.
“It’s important to have resources that meet specific needs of different populations rather than assuming that everyone has the same experience,” she said.
In the past, there was also a confidential survivor support group on campus.
“We haven’t had anybody to run that for the last couple of years,” Martin Birky said. With this grant, they hope to start it again.
Martin Birky states the college is searching for a dedicated project director to “develop programming” and “get other people on campus trained.”
On Tuesday, Perez sent an email inviting student leaders for a lunch interview with the candidate. The purpose of the meeting is to get to know them better and get a sense of their relevant professional experience.
“The services are to go into effect in year two of the grant period,” Perez said. “Year one will be to establish all of the planning for the expanded services and education.”
Martin-Birky’s long-term goal is that people on GC’s campus know they are safe and supported.
“I think the institution is improving in changing how we approach sexual violence, sexual harassment on campus [but] there’s always room to do better.”