GVSU hosts Sue Snyder for discussion on sexual violence prevention
During a visit to Grand Valley State University October 10, Michigan's first lady Sue Snyder encouraged campus community members to continue to get involved in sexual violence prevention and applauded the university's many efforts to reduce assaults.
Jesse Bernal, vice president for Inclusion and Equity at Grand Valley, invited Snyder to visit the Allendale Campus to discuss prevention and to meet with students, administrators and community members.
“Now more than ever, people are talking about sexual assault on campus,” Snyder said. “While we’ve made significant progress, we still have more work to do. Preventing sexual assault and helping survivors sends a message to our young people that they matter. With Grand Valley’s help, I know we can make more supportive and safer environments.”
The meeting was an extension of an ongoing discussion about sexual assault prevention at universities across the state. In 2015, Snyder began the statewide "Let's End Campus Sexual Assault" initiative; Grand Valley has received multiple grants from the initiative to bolster campus sexual assault prevention programming and education.
Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas said it's the university's responsibility to create a safe and secure campus. "We will continue to work with area law enforcement, and educate our students and look to them as role models," he said.
"I'm so impressed that law enforcement and Grand Valley have come together to work closely and understand each other's processes," Snyder said. "This collaboration should be a model for other universities."
During the meeting, students and staff members gave presentations on topics ranging from current prevention efforts to campus safety practices.
Aaron Haight, assistant dean of students, and Rachel Jenkin, Student Senate president, discussed outreach and education.
“New students arrive on campus without a lot of prevention education during K-12, so the Dean of Students Office partners with several offices to provide education within their first few days on campus," said Haight.
Last year, Jenkin chaired the Student Senate's sexual assault awareness committee and is working to foster partnerships with local restaurants, liquor stores and off-campus housing.
"For the first time this year, we're hosting a campus safety walk on November 1 to identify spots on campus where some students don't feel safe, and we're working on requiring all student senators to complete bystander intervention training," said Jenkin.
During the meeting, Bernal announced two new initiatives: a program to engage men in prevention work and a micro-grant program to fund on-campus work in prevention and education. The meeting ended with a discussion about challenges and ways to continue to combat sexual assault.
Those in attendance also included students from Grand Valley's It's On Us chapter and representatives from Kent County, Ottawa County and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.
Following the meeting, Snyder visited the Center for Women and Gender Equity in the Kirkhof Center.