FSU anti-violence coalition aims to change campus culture, prevent sexual violence

Submitted to the Pioneer 

Joy Pufhal

BIG RAPIDS — Several members of the Ferris State University community are working together in an effort to change campus culture and help prevent sexual violence.

FSU recently received state funding to support a multidisciplinary collaborative team of faculty, staff and students to establish a coalition to accomplish these goals.

Dean of Student Life Joy Pufhal said FSU was one of 22 public and private higher education institutions approved for a Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault grant.

“We were fortunate to be awarded $39,675 through this program,” Pufhal said. “Our grant objectives include building our campus-wide capacity of faculty, staff and students to deliver anti-violence prevention, awareness and education on our campuses.”

Coordinator of Greek Life and Student Life Project Manager Ashley Schulte said more than 30 members of the campus community, including faculty, staff and peer educators, were recruited and trained to become active participants in the anti-violence coalition.

“Those who were asked to join the coalition and commit themselves to preventing sexual violence did so enthusiastically,” Schulte said. “We are thankful the university also has provided financial support and resources so we can meet our goal to develop a trained critical mass of people capable of spreading the important message of bystander intervention.”

Pufhal and Schulte said branding for the curriculum is still in development and the university’s admissions office is preparing to offer a training module as part of online or campus-based orientation so the sessions can be offered to new FSU students. The project timeline proposes all athletic and club sports team, all fraternities and sororities and new students be offered prevention education workshops during the 2019-20 academic year.

The coalition will be reporting on various outcomes to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Organizers said their primary motivation is establishing an environment where bystanders are aware of and active in their role, to help prevent the incidence of sexual violence on Ferris’ campus and in the surrounding community.

“The coalition wants to make a lasting investment in our people, so we can offer this training and nurture peer educators each year, regardless of whether the program is supported by grant dollars at any future point,” Pufhal said.

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