Temple received a second state grant of more than $25,000 last month to improve the university’s It’s On Us initiatives, which were initially funded by last year’s grant.
The funds will be used to improve Temple’s sexual assault education programs, online sexual misconduct reporting system and other ways to increase awareness of on-campus sexual assault.
It’s On Us, which launched in September 2014 under former President Barack Obama’s administration, is a national movement to end sexual assault on college campuses.
The university and Temple Athletics joined more than 250 colleges and universities around the country in implementing the It’s On Us campaign in 2014.
The state first gave Temple a grant of more than $25,000 in January 2017. The university is one of 39 colleges in the state to receive the grant as a part of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s 2017-18 state budget, in which $1 million is allocated for It’s On Us PA, a statewide version of the national campaign.
The first grant funded a variety of projects to increase awareness of sexual assault on campus, Dean of Students Stephanie Ives wrote in an email. Ives played a large part in securing the first grant.
The grant went toward creating focus groups with underrepresented student populations, like students with disabilities, international students, students of color and LGBTQ students, to understand their experiences with sexual assault resources on Main Campus.
The money also supported the collection of data about students’ awareness of sexual misconduct and support services like Tuttleman Counseling Services, Women Organized Against Rape and Andrea Seiss, Temple’s Title IX Coordinator.
Additionally, dozens of educational materials like posters, flyers and bathroom signs “to educate students about the scope of sexual misconduct and the resources available for support and reporting” were covered by the grant, Ives wrote.
The university was also able to conduct police training to improve officer response to people who report crimes of sexual violence with Women Organized Against Rape, an organization that offers a 24/7 hotline for survivors of sexual assault.
Lastly, the 2017 grant money funded an online sexual assault reporting system, where survivors can name their attacker, comment on the nature of an assault and provide their name and contact information if they wish. Seiss is currently running the website and responds to reports.
After the report is filed, Seiss reaches out to the survivor and offers them access to on-campus resources like Tuttleman Counseling Services and offers a time to meet to discuss their situation. If the report is anonymous, Seiss reviews the report and assigns it to a university or private investigator.
Seiss, who recently returned from a trip to Temple University Japan to talk about Title IX and sexual assault resources, wrote in an email that she is excited about the second grant.
The Temple News reported in November 2017 that TUJ had no on-campus sexual assault resources and doesn’t mention sexual assault in its student handbook.
“We have spent a substantial amount of time focusing on breaking down the barriers to reporting, and this grant will allow us to assess the needs of our students abroad to see what we can best implement to encourage student reporting, and enhance all of our education and prevention efforts,” Seiss wrote.
The second grant of more than $25,000 will expand the projects that the first grant facilitated on all of Temple’s domestic and international campuses.
“With these funds, we’ll work with each campus to create specific educational materials for their student populations and to improve students’ reporting options and experiences,” Ives wrote.
THE STUDENT ORGANIZATION
Temple has a student chapter of It’s On Us which works to raise awareness about sexual assault and consent around campus. However, it does not see any of the grant money and was established independently from the university’s efforts, said Shira Freiman, the president of the chapter and a sophomore psychology major.
Temple’s chapter of It’s On Us was established in September 2017 after Freiman sent in an application last summer.
“This past year has been a lot of trial and error, just seeing what works for our campus because it’s easy for national organizations to say what every campus should be doing,” Freiman said. “It will not necessarily work for every campus.”
“It is so important to have students take initiative in leading conversations about sexual violence,” wrote Seiss, who is also the adviser for the It’s On Us student organization chapter. “The more we talk about these sensitive issues, the more survivors of sexual violence will realize they are not alone, hopefully leading more to come forward and get the support that they need.”
Next semester, the It’s On Us student organization is working to bring in speakers and host workshops with the Wellness Resource Center, which offers discounted sexual protection supplies, free HIV testing and educational programming on campus.
The student organization also hopes to build relationships with services on campus like Tuttleman Counseling Services, Freiman said.
The Interfraternity Council, along with several sororities, hosted a bake sale fundraiser for Temple’s chapter of It’s On Us on April 4 as a part of Greek Week.
IFC decided to host the fundraiser for It’s On Us in light of “recent events within our community,” said Dominic Amalfitano, a junior criminal justice major and its vice president.
Earlier this month, the university suspended social privileges for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity because of “potential violations.” The university is not able to comment on the nature of the violations because the investigation is ongoing.
“We figured it would be the perfect opportunity to bring several of our Greek chapters together to support an organization that we should all be advocates for as we strive to have positive influences on our surrounding community,” Amalfitano said.