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Schumer, Gillibrand & Higgins announce federal grants to support sexual violence prevention at Trocaire & Medaille Colleges

PRESS RELEASE

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announce nearly $600,000 in federal grants to Trocaire College and Medaille College toward efforts to enhance awareness, prevention and response to sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence.

Senator Schumer said, "These crucial federal funds will both help sexual assault survivors to recover from trauma and prevent these assaults in the first place. I applaud Medaille and Trocaire for their efforts to eliminate sexual assault on campus, and for their collaboration with students, Crisis Services and local law enforcement."

"This critical federal funding through the Department of Justice will help facilitate on campus programs to better assist in prevention and response training for college campus officials and survivors of sexual violence," said Senator Gillibrand. "Trocaire College and Medaille College recognize that sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are serious problems on our college campuses today and I am glad they are taking this step towards creating a safe environment for students to learn and grow. By increasing accessibility to training and services for college campuses we can help provide the support and resources needed to prevent and effectively respond to sexual violence as well as intimate partner violence, and to provide the help survivors need to heal."

"These federal awards will provide important resources to allow for Trocaire and Medaille to expand the scope of services provided to sexual assault victims and facilitate increased coordination with Crisis Services and local law enforcement agencies," said Congressman Higgins.

Trocaire College will receive a federal grant totaling $299,639.  The college serves a 100% commuter population, over half of Trocaire's students are part-time and 40% are single mothers.

"Our number one priority as an institution of higher education is to do everything that we can to protect and create a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff," said Trocaire College President Bassam M. Deeb. "As a commuter school, our students are not experiencing sexual abuse or violence in dormitories or at other campus residential housing. However, it is our hope the unique program we have created will assist students who may be facing violence in their lives. By having faculty and staff involvement, a broad safety net can be created for students who have experienced these issues or who would benefit from awareness and preventative education. This grant will help us fulfill our mission to serve students, helping them through the challenges they might face on the path to graduation."

As part of its program, Trocaire will hire a full-time project coordinator to organize and support a coordinated community response team consisting of college staff and representatives from Crisis Services and the Buffalo and Lancaster Police Departments. The College will also develop and deliver mandatory education on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking for new students and transfer students as well as ongoing bystander intervention and prevention programming and education.

Medaille College was awarded a $300,000 grant. Approximately 72% of the Medaille student population are women.  In addition, 87% of Medaille students commute to class and 79% are first generation college students.

"Medaille College has always considered the safety of its students its highest priority," said Medaille President Dr. Kenneth M. Macur. "We are excited and honored to receive this grant that will help us enhance the best possible learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff."

The grant will make possible a range of services at Medaille College, including specialized training for campus law enforcement, healthcare providers and college personnel, as well as enhanced education for incoming students. The grant will also support Medaille's collaborative work with law enforcement and off-campus victim service providers.

College partners on these grants include Crisis Services, New York State Police, Lancaster Police and the Buffalo Police Department.

"Serving as experts in sexual and domestic violence, Crisis Services values our role as Erie County's Rape Crisis Center and a domestic violence service provider.  We are thrilled to partner on this grant which will allow us to collaborate with Trocaire College, Medaille College, local and state law enforcement to ensure a thoughtful, survivor-centered, coordinated community response.  We have historically worked with campus communities, which has grown to include co-location and expansion of services at many campus throughout the county in the past 3 years. Importantly for survivors who are help seeking, this grant offers the opportunity for the funded campuses to create sustainable practices and infrastructure on their campus to prevent and respond to sexual and domestic violence," said Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services.

September is recognized as National Campus Safety Awareness Month.  According to a comprehensive study reviewing sexual assault among college-age students from 1995-2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports: rape and sexual assault incidents were more likely to go unreported by college student victims (80% unreported) than nonstudents (67% unreported).  About 80% of rape and sexual assault victims know their attacker.  Just 1 in 5 female student victims received assistance from a service agency.

Trocaire and Medaille Colleges were among just 57 grant recipients nationwide awarded a total of $32 million from the U.S. Department of Justice.