Niagara University’s commitment to increasing awareness of and preventing domestic violence (DV), dating violence (DV), sexual assault (SA), and stalking (S) was highlighted this month by the introduction of its newly established Office of Violence Prevention and Education. The office will serve as a one-stop-shop for campuswide violence prevention programming such as bystander intervention, advocacy, victim services, trainings, and awareness events surrounding DVDVSAS.
“Our mission is to create and sustain positive behavior change and a cultural shift among our campus toward a trauma-informed and safe campus community,” said Emily Pike, director for the office. “Everyone deserves to be a part of a violence-free community. Establishing the Office of Violence Prevention & Education is a major step toward creating positive change on our campus. This office provides a space for our community to learn, build skills, and have productive conversations about gender-based violence. I hope to use my role on the CCRT, as well as my position on campus, to contribute to a healthy, inclusive, and uplifting culture here at Niagara.”
Funded through a three-year, $300,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, NU’s OVPE will expand on initiatives led by Dr. Dana Radatz, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, and Dr. Jennifer Beebe, associate professor of counseling/education, who have worked to advance universitywide education and awareness of DVDVSAS programming in recent years. The continued collaboration with the university’s existing partnerships with local criminal justice and victim service agencies, including the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, Pinnacle Community Services, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, and the New York State Police, will be essential for the success of this new office.
The office will coordinate two annual on-campus events: “Take Back the Night,” which will be held March 31 this year and includes resource tables, poster making, a brief program including a survivor speaker, vigil, and a student-organized march across campus in an effort to end sexual, relationship, and domestic violence in all forms; and “Surviving...Thriving: A Journey of Healing Through Art,” which features artwork created by survivors of domestic violence. It will also observe DVDVSAS-related awareness months and coordinate the Green Dot training, a licensed intervention program which empowers individuals to take on a bystander role and see themselves as part of the solution.
In addition, a Coordinated Community Response Team, comprising a diverse, multidisciplinary group of leaders and stakeholders from on campus and within the community, will assist and support Pike in actively engaging the NU community in advocating, preventing, and responding to DVDVSAS while promoting positive social change.
“The creation of the Office of Violence Prevention & Education and the work carried out by the CCRT elevates the leadership, commitment, and advocacy needed to promote violence prevention,” said Dr. Debra Colley, NU executive vice president. “This communitywide leadership and action aligns with the true heart and spirit of the Vincentian mission. Our collective efforts demonstrate the positive impact we can have—students, faculty, staff, administration, and our community partners—when we collaborate to make a systemic difference. The guidance of the new OVPE and its call to action to promote violence prevention through education is transformational for our Niagara community.”