Expanding Services, Research, and Support to Confront Sexual Misconduct

September 9, 2019 

Members of the Rutgers Community:

Sexual misconduct remains a serious problem throughout society and on our nation’s college campuses.  As you will read below and in subsequent communications this month, Rutgers is taking important steps both to study the problem and to address and prevent incidents of sexual violence in our own community.

For the past two years, funding by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office through the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) has helped us provide sexual violence education activities and victim support services across Rutgers.  I am pleased to announce that our VOCA funding has been renewed for a third and fourth year at $2.5 million annually.

Supported by the federal grants, we now have Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) offices on each of our campuses, and we have been able to expand the staff and resources within our compliance and Title IX offices.  We have launched campaigns to inform students, faculty, and staff about all our programs and services to address and eliminate relationship violence. Incoming students have received online training about sexual and dating violence.  And we have provided support services for hundreds of community members.

In addition, the School of Social Work and the Center on Violence Against Women and Children hosted a statewide conference this past year where college and high school administrators and service providers shared evidence-informed approaches to campus sexual violence response and education.

The grant renewal for the next two years will help to provide:

  • targeted outreach to more students (including LGBTQ, graduate, and international students)
  • increased training for faculty and staff on campus violence and the resources available to students
  • expanded outreach to victims of other types of crime on campus

The combined State and University investment in these critical efforts at Rutgers over the four years will total nearly $11.4 million.

Rutgers has long been a leader among our peer universities in both our research on sexual violence and in the support we offer students.  We opened the Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance office in New Brunswick eighteen years ago, and we have implemented groundbreaking programs to raise awareness about sexual violence on campus such as SCREAM Theater and bystander training at New Student Orientation.

In 2014, our faculty were selected by the White House to pilot a campus climate survey of Rutgers–New Brunswick students on sexual violence to use as a national model. Since then, our survey work has continued for student populations across our campuses, and Rutgers faculty have been called upon for their expertise. In fact, Professor Sarah McMahon will be testifying this week at a state public hearing on sexual harassment.

Most recently, a year ago President Barchi asked me to chair a new universitywide Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Culture Change.  Through this committee, Rutgers is addressing these issues in teaching and research relationships involving faculty and students at all levels, including graduate students, post-docs, and residents. 

Related to the committee’s focus, Rutgers is among 28 founding members in a National Academies Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education.  I will be writing to you again later this month about key outcomes of the committee’s work.

Please be assured of our ongoing—and increasing—commitment to providing outstanding and effective services to educate, inform, protect, empower, and support members of our community in confronting sexual misconduct. And if you, or someone you know, should need assistance in any way related to sexual violence or relationship abuse, please reach out to our VPVA offices at Rutgers-New Brunswick, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences to begin to get the help you need.

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Lee
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs