New center to help prevent sexual violence, provide support for survivors

(Vanderbilt University)

Project Safe, a Vanderbilt University program committed to preventing sexual assault as well as other forms of power-based personal violence, is being expanded into a free-standing center on campus.

The longstanding program has existed under the auspices of the university’s Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and provides direct service and support to those impacted by power-based personal violence, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and identity-based targeting. The Project Safe hotline, (615) 322-SAFE (7233), is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Historically, Project Safe has also worked to educate the Vanderbilt community about power-based personal violence, consent and healthy relationships. Survivor advocacy is another service provided by the program.

The new Project Safe center will be located on West Side Row and is expected to open in fall 2014. The mission of the center will be to further the current work of Project Safe with an increased focus on developing ways to partner with students, faculty and staff to create a campus culture that rejects violence, and to engage men and individuals of various gender identities in bystander intervention and sexual assault prevention.

“This new center makes it clear that women and the women’s center at the university cannot be the only ones to ‘own’ the important work of education and prevention,” Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said. “To effectively address sexual assault and other forms of power-based personal violence, everyone at this university must have a role.”

A search will be conducted for a director of the center, and there are plans to hire an additional prevention educator/victim resources specialist. The Office of the Dean of Students will have oversight of the center.

“Creating this center provides an opportunity for us to offer a single entry point for information for students, faculty and staff who want to make one phone call to seek assistance,” Mark Bandas, associate provost and dean of students, said. “A number of additional offices will continue to be involved in prevention and response efforts, and victims of sexual misconduct may contact them as well.”

A full list of resources is available on the Project Safe website,