Ohio Department of Higher Education funds BGSU campaign to prevent campus sexual violence

The Ohio Department of Higher Education recently announced funding for education projects designed to prevent sexual violence at Ohio’s colleges and universities. Bowling Green State University has received one of those 23 awards.

BGSU’s $10,000 award will support Step Up-Step In, which enhances existing “It’s on Us” programming. The campaign is designed to inspire men to engage in conversation and programming that will help the community develop knowledge and awareness of how it can contribute to the prevention of relationship violence, sexual assault, stalking and sexual harassment.

“BGSU data suggests it is time to evolve our prevention efforts to include a greater focus on the development of prevention skills,” said Lona Leck, assistant director, Recreation and Wellness. “By engaging men and their sense of duty to support others, we hope to inspire others to step up to the challenge and to increase public awareness of the support system that our community members represent to each other.”

The campaign will begin at the start of the fall semester and will include experiential and environmental tactics. The campaign’s main tenets will be introduced through one-on-one discussions that engage students and staff alike to step up. In addition, installations will be unveiled in key locations throughout campus to encourage the physical act of stepping up or stepping in. The campus community will be encouraged to find the locations, read the materials posted there, take photos and caption them on social media. In the spring, the initiative will shift gears to a support stance for others on campus, including student organizations, who are inspired to conduct events and continue the message through their own voices.

The funds are awarded as part of ODHE’s Changing Campus Culture initiative. More than $248,000 was awarded to two-year and four-year colleges and universities across Ohio to implement projects that inspire a community of shared respect. Selected projects include a wide variety of prevention and response initiatives meant to increase dialogue, understanding, and overall awareness of the issues surrounding campus sexual violence. Funded projects will be reviewed for replication on other campuses.

Through the 2015 state budget, ODHE was charged with developing model best practices for preventing and responding to campus sexual assault. A total of $2 million was allocated to support this work. To gain a better understanding of the diverse needs of Ohio’s colleges and universities, input was sought and received from campus presidents, advocacy groups, and campus and community experts statewide, and national trends and best practices were thoroughly researched.

ODHE released the resulting “Changing Campus Culture: Preventing & Responding to Campus Sexual Violence” report and recommendations, which build upon the existing work already underway on many Ohio college and university campuses.