Preventing violence among college students: Center for Court Innovation, SU, Vera House to pioneer new approach
Preventing violence among college students: Center for Court Innovation, SU, Vera House to pioneer new approachFebruary 19, 2007Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
On Friday, Feb. 23, staff from the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), Syracuse University and Vera House Inc. will host a kick-off event for the new Syracuse Partnership for Violence Prevention program, an innovative effort to reduce gender violence among college students. The program, founded with input from noted violence prevention advocate Don McPherson ’87, executive director of the Adelphi University Sports Leadership Institute and former SU and professional football player, will deploy the successful Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) model among sororities and fraternities at SU and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). This is the first time the MVP model has ever been used in the Greek community. The event will take place at the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center from 6-7 p.m.
“The Center for Court Innovation is excited to work with Vera House and Syracuse University,” says Valerie Raine, director of drug court projects for the center and coordinator of the center’s involvement in this program. “With their commitment, we will test the value of this violence prevention approach among fraternity and sorority members, and hopefully we will make a positive difference in what we know about violence prevention and in the lives of our participants.”
Student peer trainers will play vital roles in this collaborative effort to reduce gender violence. Professional staff from the Syracuse University Rape: Advocacy, Prevention and Education (R.A.P.E.) Center, Office of Prevention Services and Office of Student Life; SUNY-ESF; Vera House; and CCI will teach student peer trainers how to implement the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, using a unique bystander approach to prevention — students are not seen as potential perpetrators or victims, but as empowered bystanders who can intervene with their peers about abusive situations. An MVP Playbook is used by peer facilitators to guide discussion on issues such as harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence and alcohol and consent. Video clips from popular culture are used to supplement the discussion. The approach was created in 1993 by Northwestern University and has proven successful among student-athletes.
The Syracuse Partnership for Violence Prevention will provide training for student peer trainers in 32 fraternity and sorority chapters. Trainers will then go back to their organizations and train other students in the MVP model. It is projected that nearly 900 members of Greek organizations will have been trained by mid-2008, and organizers say their long-term goal is to provide the training to all SU and SUNY-ESF students, creating the first campus-wide test bed for large-scale application of this successful approach. Funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, the Syracuse Partnership for Violence Prevention includes funding for long-term assessment to gauge the program’s success. The Feb. 23 event, at which McPherson will welcome staff and student trainees, launches an intensive, 10-hour MVP training session for a group of more than 60 participating students.
“We have a long history of partnering closely with SU, and we are thrilled to be working closely with the Center for Court Innovation as it expands its efforts in Upstate New York,” says Randi K. Bregman, executive director of Vera House. “It is our intention that this will not only become a useful, national example of how to do violence prevention in the University setting, but will also create, among its student participants, a new group of violence prevention advocates who will be committed to the cause in college and beyond.””Statistics show that, despite best efforts so far, gender-based violence remains a serious problem on college campuses — so we are excited to be on the cutting edge of this new approach to violence prevention,” says Janet Epstein, associate director of the SU Rape: Advocacy, Prevention, and Education (R.A.P.E.) Center. “Collaborations on projects like the White Ribbon Campaign, Take Back the Night and the Clothesline Project are turning Syracuse University and the Syracuse community into a place that will not turn its back on sexual violence. Now, with this new collaboration, we hope to gain experience and insights that will help university communities nationwide.”
The Center for Court Innovation is a nonprofit think tank that helps courts and criminal justice agencies aid victims, reduce crime and improve public trust in justice. In 2004, the center opened its Syracuse office, which focuses on training and providing technical assistance to a variety of problem-solving justice initiatives. For more information, visit http://www.courtinnovation.org.
Vera House works to end all domestic and sexual violence, to assist families in crisis, to support those affected by domestic and sexual violence to live safe, self-sufficient lives, to empower women and children, and to promote a culture of equality and respect in relationships. Located in Syracuse for 30 years, it offers a variety of programs and services, including 24-hour crisis hotlines. For more information, visit http://verahouse.org.
The SU R.A.P.E. Center in the Office of Prevention Services — a unit of the Division of Student Affairs — is dedicated to the coordination and oversight of comprehensive sexual assault prevention programs, in addition to providing support services for survivors of sexual assault. The R.A.P.E Center provides a safe, caring space for students who are victims of sexual violence, and promotes recovery from the effects of sexual violence through personalized intervention and support services. For more information, visit http://students.syr.edu/rapecenter.