SHU Receives Grant to Address Violence & Assault Prevention and Assistance on Campus

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University has received $298,714 in grant money from the federal Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) under its 2020 Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on Campus Program.

The OVW is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice that works to develop the nation’s “capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking,” according to the DOJ’s website. This three-year grant allows SHU to continue its work in prevention and awareness of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking (SADDVS), and is in addition to a previous $299,996 grant in OVW funding that the University received in 2017.

For the past three years, Sacred Heart has been working with the Fairfield Police Department, the Center for Family Justice (CFJ) and various other organizations that also have OVW grants to review policies, update websites and create training for faculty, staff and students. Much of that work will continue in the next grant cycle with more focus on SHU’s underserved populations and awareness related to stalking. The University also intends to incorporate the Green Dot bystander program with its existing bystander intervention program, NotAnymore. Green Dot treats all people as allies and serves to educate on the small things that can be done to help create a safe campus. Currently only freshmen students receive bystander training and Green Dot would provide additional intervention training to all class years.

“With this grant we can educate people about safety issues and help them identify problematic behaviors so we can create a campus that is safe and supportive for the entire SHU community,” said Kristen Eschwie, project coordinator for the OVW Grant.

Sacred Heart will achieve these goals through continued compliance with statutory requirements: form a coordinated community response with relevant internal and external partners, provide mandatory training to incoming students regarding SADDVS and train all campus law enforcement and student-conduct personnel in effective response to such incidents. Additionally, the University will continue to work closely with the CFJ to provide comprehensive and confidential victim services to all members of the SHU community. It will advertise CJF services to ensure students are aware there is a resource not connected to SHU that is confidential and handles all SADDVS issues, from helping to develop safety plans to sending advocates to accompany victims to the hospital. The CJF also provides the University with two advocates who each are on campus for four hours per week, for a total of eight hours. 


Sacred Heart has a population of nearly 9,000 students. Of those:

  • The majority are undergraduates (67%) and females (65%)
  • Most students live on campus (93% of freshmen and 58% of all undergraduates)
  • There are17 residence halls and University apartments, overseen by 96 resident success assistants and 11 residence hall directors
  • In a 2016 campus climate survey, 12.4% of respondents stated they had been the victim of some form of sexual assault on one or more occasions
  • In regard to stalking, 23% of survey respondents stated either they or someone they knew at SHU had been the victim of stalking
  • More than 50% of respondents stated either they or someone they knew at SHU had been the victim of some form of an abusive relationship


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 385 Colleges–2020 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 252 Business Schools–2019 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater. www.sacredheart.edu


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