University of Akron receives $300,000 grant to prevent and respond to sexual assaults

AKRON, Ohio - The University of Akron has received a federal grant that will boost programs to prevent as well as respond to sexual assault incidents on campus.

The U.S. Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women allocated $300,000 through a grant to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

The grant will be available for three years to support a coordinated response and support group.

"The University of Akron has made steady progress toward ending all forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence," said Dean of Students Michael Strong. "Still, any one instance is too many. The OVW grant will allow our dedicated staff to reach further into our community, educating students as well as university faculty and staff."

The grant aims to strengthen sensitivity training for faculty and campus police and provide mandatory prevention training and education programming for all new university students.

According to UA statistics, dating violence reports went from 12 in 2015, 16 in 2016 to 29 in 2017. During the same timeframe, sexual assaults jumped from 32 to 45 to 57. There was also an increase in sexual harassment cases.

Campus leaders believe the "Me Too" movement has pushed those numbers up with more survivors willing to share their stories.

"I think each year we've seen more people report, which might not seem good, but in a way it's good because people are more comfortable coming forward and getting help so that's positive," said Michelle Smith, the deputy Title IX coordinator for employees.

The University of Akron is one of four universities in the state to receive some of the grant money.

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