Northern Michigan University has received more than $19,000 through the State of Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program. The funding will support “Empowering the Confidant,” an initiative that will train peers to respond appropriately when friends, roommates or fellow students disclose incidents of sexual misconduct.
“Research indicates that survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence are far more likely to report what happened to their peers than authorities or family members,” said Associate Dean of Students Mary Brundage, who is directing the project with Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair Alan McEvoy. “How their friends respond can either help or further complicate the recovery process. The grant focuses on empowering confidants with knowledge that will enable them to more effectively lend support to their friends while still caring for themselves.”
Next semester, NMU will administer a survey to students to determine how many have been the recipient of a sexual misconduct disclosure. It will also ask what information would have been helpful in that situation.
Related short videos featuring student actors—one describing what they “wish they would have known” and one depicting healthy vs. unhealthy relationships—will be produced as a standard component of student orientation and will be offered as a tool for the freshman seminar (UN 100) course.
A campus-wide program will be delivered in fall 2018. Students will role-play scenarios generated from the survey. Educational information will be provided afterward by NMU Housing and Residence Life, Dean of Students Office, Title IX coordinator, Counseling and Consultation Services, the NMU Health Center, Public Safety and Police Services and the Women’s Center.
The Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program funds the development of new and innovative programs to address the problem of sexual assault on state campuses. This year, 13 community colleges and universities received nearly $382,000 in grant funds.