Maryville College plans to strengthen programs to protect women from violence with a $300,000 federal grant, even though statistics suggest the campus already is a safe space.

The college’s latest annual security report, published this month, shows no reports on campus for the past three years of sexual offenses, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, although Melanie Tucker, vice president and dean of students, noted that those types of incidents often go unreported on campuses nationwide.

Before students arrive at Maryville College for classes, they already have received education on sexual assault prevention through an online platform, according Tucker.

With the new grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, the college plans to build on that and other efforts with a Preventing Assault and Violence through Education program.

That includes opening a new violence prevention and education center in Bartlett Hall and hiring a prevention-educator coordinator. The center will provide ongoing education and facilitate a coordinated community response team.

Part of the grant also will be used to train peer educators on topics such as healthy relationships and navigating conversations about healthy consent, Tucker explained.

Other education efforts will be designed to deepen and broaden the understanding of safety and security officers, residence life staff and student conduct board representatives who may respond to victims.

The college plans to develop protocols and services specifically to support students who don’t speak English as their native language, including international students and those with limited English proficiency. It will also develop resources for victims who are deaf or hearing impaired.

In applying for the grant the college developed memorandums of understandings with community partners with whom it has long worked, including the Helen Ross McNabb Center, Haven House and the Maryville Police Department.

Tucker explained that the campus statistics include only reports made to the college, and a student may report to another organization. The college is working with its partners to ensure that with a student’s permission it can receive information to support the victim without the person having to retell what happened.

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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