Cindy Washburn wants North Central College students to know about supportive services and intervention options available to those affected by gender-based violence.
As the College’s coordinator of a U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Campus Grant Program, Washburn knows that sexual assaults on college campuses nationwide too often go unreported. Some estimate that only 25 percent of physical assaults, 20 percent of rapes and 50 percent of stalking cases are reported.
“We want to encourage people to receive support if they’ve been assaulted,” Washburn says. “The lack of reports doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.”
North Central College last year was awarded a $274,600 OVW grant to establish a comprehensive program to improve victim services and resources, enhance education and prevention, and strengthen policies and protocols for addressing gender-based violence. One of the first goals is to get out the word to students about the availability of services and College policies against domestic/dating violence, stalking and sexual assault.
“We will provide a compassionate response to those seeking services and inform them of available options, both on campus and in the community,” Washburn says. “We just want people to know there is help, usually free, confidential and only a phone call away.”
Colleges and universities nationwide are addressing gender-based violence on campuses. President Obama on Jan. 25 announced a new White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault that is tasked with determining best practices for addressing the prevalence of sexual assault among college students.
The Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus Program encourages institutions of higher education to adopt comprehensive, coordinated responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The College has assembled a community response team that includes health professionals from Edward Hospital, Naperville Police Department, Wheaton-based Family Shelter Service and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, which operates the Patterson and McDaniel Family Center in Glendale Heights.
“The spirit of the grant is to utilize the expertise of our community partners to inform North Central College policy, procedures and services for students,” Washburn says.
“We recognize confidentiality is a major concern and make every possible effort to protect privacy,” she says. “Following an act of violence, my job is to provide choices and support for someone who may feel they have neither. Ultimately, we can help find those again, in many ways.”
Washburn’s position is a part of services available at the Dyson Wellness Center. If you have been sexually assaulted and would like confidential support and assistance in discussing your options, contact the Dyson Wellness Center at 630-637-5550 or Washburn directly at 630-637-5113.