New grant helps battle campus violence against women - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

New grant helps battle campus violence against women

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Big money is going to promote safe campuses. Five Birmingham colleges received a grant from the Department of Justice, totaling $499,551. The new campus safety initiative specifically targets women and keeping them safe. The grant will fund a new project called "safety in numbers.

The five schools are UAB, Samford, Miles College, University of Montevallo and Birmingham Southern College.

Its goal, promote safety for women through prevention education as well as developing policies and appropriate responses to campus violence against women.

For Samford senior, Alyssa Szymanski, safety on campus is her top priority. Szymanksi currently works as a counselor for the university's crisis center hotline. It helps young women who have been victimized.

Szymanski says. "Wonderful women, girls of all ages that just trust people, they trust their friends and are put in difficult situations that nobody should ever be in. Most sexual assaults are done by someone you know and you trust."

In fact, national studies show, one in four college women have reported sexual assault. Nearly one third of college students report being physically assaulted by a dating partner and one in six women have experienced stalking at some point

Dr. Jonathan Davis coordinated the "Safety in Numbers" project. He hopes to change those statistics.

"One of the goals of this grant is to empower victims, so when violence like that does happen, they have as many options as possible," says Davis. "It's a great opportunity for us, both to provide resources and accountability for us to deal with something that is a hard topic."

One of the community partners in the project, is Jefferson County District Attorney, Brandon Falls.
He says his office will provide training to law enforcement to effectively respond to these acts.

"I'm happy that we'll be able to do this on the campuses, then hopefully spread that out to the rest of the municipalities of Jefferson County," says Falls.

The grant is a three year grant that runs through September 2015. More than 30,000 students are impacted by the grant.

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