UTEP receives grant to combat sexual violence


Catherine Ramirez, Contributor

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded UTEP a grant to help the university respond to sexual assaults and other violent crimes affecting college students on and off campus.
In a press release on Wednesday, Aug. 29, the justice department’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) announced 57 grants totaling in over $18 million were given to colleges across the country to combat sexual assault and violent crimes.
UTEP was the only university in the state of Texas to receive the grant.
“We applied through a very complicated process for a second time and we were awarded the grant,” said Dr. Thenral Mangadu, the grant program director. “We received a similar grant in 2015.”
The grant UTEP received totals $300,000 and will be used in the span of three years to create sexual harassment prevention programs and educational events for students.
“It is a good way to spend the money. I don’t think this school, as a whole, pays much attention to that,” said Berenice Graziano, a junior psychology major.
The grant program will be managed through the Department of Public Health in the College of Health Sciences and will be ran by Mangadu and Luisa Garcia, the assistant director of the program.
“Our community is at risk for violence-related health disparities and through these collaborations and this grant we can enhance our outcomes which is related to our UTEP institutional mission,” Mangadu said.
The program will partner with UTEP departments and organizations, along with victim service providers and local justice agencies to implement campus activities to prevent sexual harassment on campus and to coordinate response teams when violent situations arise.
Partnered organizations, victim service providers and justice agencies include the UTEP Care program, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence and the District Attorney’s Office in El Paso.
“I think the best weapon against this issue is to thoroughly educate people about the harsh consequences they will face when they are caught and convicted,” said Carlos Chavira, a senior in Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
A portion of the grant will also be used to train campus healthcare providers, law enforcement and other university personnel who are considered first responders, to enforce preventative measures associated with sexual violence and how to respond to situations.
“We will be engaging administrators and law enforcement so we can provide comprehensive intervention and services,” Dr. Mangadu said.
Following the recent explosion of sexual harassment misconduct, some of the preventative intervention services and activities planned will concentrate on, but are not limited to, engagement with men to prevent sexual violence.
“I hope it makes individual members more aware that this is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly,” Chavira said.
The grant project is devoted to stopping sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus for all students, staff and faculty, both on and off campus.
All students will have access to grant opportunities on campus and in the community and are encouraged to participate in all events to continue the fight against sexual violence.Catherine Ramirez may be reached at [email protected]