Washburn awarded grant to combat sexual violence

Mark Feuerborn

Washburn University was recently awarded a portion of an $8.5 million grant by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.

Washburn University was the only Kansas college or university to receive one of the 27 awards available. The university was given a grant of $299,838 for its “Creating a Culture of Consent at Washburn University: Confronting Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking on Campus” project.

“When I found out we were awarded the grant, I was very excited,” said Joel Bluml, associate vice president for student life and a co-investigator on the project.

“The reason we applied for the grant was to create the capacity to be able to deal with this issue more effectively,” Bluml said, “Lots of work has been done by a lot of different people on campus on this issue, but receiving the grant is definitely going to help us in creating a culture of consent on campus.”

Bluml also expressed his gratitude to the local organizations who assisted Washburn in receiving the award, including the YWCA.

“I think it says a lot about not only our Washburn community but also our Topeka community. There were a lot of hoops to jump through to get this grant… There was a lot of collaboration that went into even applying for this grant [that we] are proud of that we were able to rally support for this grant, not only on campus, but also in the community with those key community partners.

The grant will be used to help fund mandatory prevention and awareness programming for all students. It will also be used to fund training for law enforcement and disciplinary board faculty on effective ways to respond to sexual violence and stalking.

Bluml also stated that behind-the-scenes work has already begun on the grant project, to allow for the project to hit the ground running.

“There’s a lot of details that go into both formally accepting the grant, [and] right now we’re looking at finalizing position description… The goal is by the end of the three years of this, that the policies, procedures, etc.,  that will be put in place as a result of this grant will become part of the culture at Washburn,” Bluml said.