UI’s Women’s Resources Center awarded $300,000 grant for reducing violence, stalking

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The UI Women’s Resource Center is located at 616 East Green Street. The center was recently awarded a grant for $300,000.

By Mona Alrazzaq, Staff Writer

A grant awarded to the University’s Women’s Resources Center will be used to create a campus response team for sexual misconduct and to focus on cyberstalking, a growing concern of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This grant provides the center with $300,000 over the course of three years. It was secured with the assistance of the University’s department in filling out the application for the grant, according to Sarah Colomé, the director of the center.

The funding will be used to support the center in hiring a leader for this project for the next three years. The person hired will establish the University’s first Community Coordinated Response Team against sexual misconduct, composed of a number of strategic partners both on and off campus, Colomé said. 

Some of these services and respondents include the Women’s Resources Center, Carle Foundation Hospital, Title IX coordinators, and law enforcement, if the victim chooses to involve them. Colomé said this will allow respondents to have an increased knowledge as to which services are available to survivors. 

“It better allows us to understand the breadth of services that are available so we’re not using a cookie cutter approach and instead are using a survivor-centered approach,” Colomé said. 

In addition to the CCRT, the funding will be used to provide more training on campus that will help improve the existing prevention education at the University, according to Colomé. A main focus in these training sessions will be the issue of stalking. 

“Particularly now in terms of covid and being virtual, cyber abuse and cyberstalking is a form of harm that people are getting a bigger risk of,” Colomé said. 

The center will also create Illinois’ first summit on stalking. This summit will “bring together practitioners and students from across the state to come together to train, strategize and create materials that can then be disseminated” across the state, according to Colomé. 

A national assessment conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015 and updated in 2018 found that nearly one third of women and almost one third of men first experienced stalking between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. 

Though stalking is never the victim’s fault, Colomé emphasized the importance of being cautious of what personal information — such as locations and daily routines — individuals post on social media, as that information can be easily accessed and manipulated. 

These training sessions and summits on stalking will provide students with more knowledge regarding both virtual and in person stalking as well as more knowledge on resources to go to if somebody is ever a victim of stalking. 

Anyone on campus in need of confidential advising services related to sexual misconduct, harassment and stalking still has the option to access services in the Women’s Resources Center either virtually or in-person by contacting the center at (217) 333-3137 or emailing at [email protected]

[email protected]

Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this article “Women’s Resources Center” was “Women’s Resource Center.” The Daily Illini regrets this error.