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MHU Shares in Federal Grant Program to Fight Campus Violence

The U.S. Department of Justice-Office on Violence Against Women (DOJ-OVW) has awarded Mars Hill University a $298,958 grant as part of a program to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on college and university campuses. Mars Hill is one of two North Carolina institutions (UNC Chapel Hill is the other) selected to take part in the program to enhance victim services and develop programs. The grants total $8.5 million to 27 colleges and universities through the Campus Grant Program.

Recipient institutions are required to conduct mandatory prevention and education programming for all incoming students and to train campus law enforcement and all members of campus disciplinary boards to respond effectively to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Campuses can use funds to develop and adopt policies and protocols that prioritize victim safety and hold offenders accountable. Mars Hill University President Dan Lunsford said, “We are very pleased the Department of Justice recognized our singular commitment to improving the educational experience at Mars Hill University and rewarded our dedication with this grant.”

Mars Hill University will use its grant funds in three areas: programming, facilities improvement, and community collaboration. This grant represents part of an overarching strategy to improve the security posture and help create a safety culture at the university and in the surrounding communities, according to Lunsford. The grant will be used for focused programming for students, campus authorities, and area partners to increase awareness and provide skills to help combat sexual violence and related issues impacting college campuses. It will also be earmarked for improving the physical environment at Mars Hill University through increased lighting in high traffic areas and to provide a new digital communications system for the Mars Hill Police Department and MHU Department of Safety and Security. That system is intended to enhance communication and interoperability when responding to a crisis such as a reported sexual assault. Finally, the grant will improve collaboration through better engagement with area community, crisis center, and law enforcement partners. The university partnered with the Mars Hill Police Department, My Sister’s Place Crisis Center in Madison County, and Our Voice in Asheville to write the grant proposal.

The DOJ-OVW Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking on Campus Program (campus program) is highly competitive with only 27 schools nationally receiving an award. The Fiscal Year 2015 grant recipients are:
Humboldt State University, Arcata, California; Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College, Redding, California; Asnuntuck Community College, Enfield, Conn Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida; Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, Florida.; Valencia College, Orlando, Florida.; Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, Iowa; Saint Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, Indiana; Washburn University of Topeka, Topeka, Kansas; Salam State University, Salem, Massachusetts; Bates College, Lewiston, Maine; Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri; Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, Mississippi; Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana; Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, North Carolina; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Passaic County Community College, Paterson, New Jersey; The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey.; University of Nevada at Reno, Reno, Neveda; Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.; Cabrini College, Radnor, Pennsylvania.; Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.; University of Puerto Rico at Carolina, Carolina, Puerto Rico; Augustana College (recently renamed Augustana University), Sioux Falls, South Dakota; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee; University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas; Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, Washington.