Simpson College receives $300,000 grant for prevention of sexual assault


Caleb Geer

Simpson College is one of 36 institutions to receive a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), a branch of the Department of Justice, for the prevention of sexual assault.

by Ryan Magalhaes, Staff Reporter

Simpson College was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), a branch of the Department of Justice, for the prevention of sexual assault.

The grant covers three years, with $100,000 made available each year, and includes stipulations requiring reports of what the money is being used for.

The OVW’s most recent grant report said it is meant “to develop and strengthen effective security and investigation strategies to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus.”

Of hundreds of applicants, only 36 are chosen each year.

Vice President of Student Development Heidi Levine was in charge of the group that drafted the proposal. The group included members of Counseling Services, Sexual Assault Response Advocates (SARA) and other on and off-campus groups.

“It’s offered to colleges around the country to invest in violence prevention,” Levine said. “But also looking at best practices and victim response.” 

A focus for the program this year was on strong off-campus partners and activities specific to preventing violence against LGBTQ+ individuals.

“Our off-campus partners that we’ve identified are Indianola Police, Polk County Crisis and Advocacy and Iowa SAFE schools,” Levine said. Simpson PRIDE will also have an important role in the spending of the grant money.

Before receiving any grant money, the OVW report says Simpson must “support a Project Director who is at least a .75 full-time employee” to lead the sexual assault prevention initiative. This means that the employee must make 75% of what is determined to be a full-time salary.

The project director will tentatively be hired by the beginning of the Spring semester and will work with Simpson for the entirety of the three-year grant.

Certain steps will be followed to ensure the grant is received.

“First of all, doing a campus needs assessment,” Levine said. “Are there any problem areas on campus we don’t know about?”

Once the needs assessment is completed, the funds will be used to fix problems or improve existing solutions.

“We’ll revisit our bystander intervention program,” Levine said. “We’ll do facilitator training, so we have people to lead sessions. We’ll be doing outreach to our LGBTQ+ community.”

Levine also wants to use some money for small but important changes, such as improving campus lighting.

“We need to identify areas of campus that are still dark at night and get those lighting improvements made,” she said.

Much like the drafting of the proposal, the implementation of the plan will be a group effort and involve representatives from all corners of Simpson College.

“We will have representatives on the coordinating team from Simpson PRIDE, athletics, Greek life, SGA (Student Government Association), SARA (Sexual Assault Response Advocates) and other faculty and staff,” Levine said. “They’ll be working directly with the program director to create and carry out that strategic plan.”

The OVW does allow for reapplications, allowing the grant to be extended as long as a college has a need and plan for the funding.

While Simpson does plan to reapply when the grant expires, if the reapplication is rejected, Levine says they can still do a lot with three years.

“Over at least the first three years, we hope to make significant improvements and have planned to institutionalize them,” she said. “So if we don’t get a second grant, we’re well prepared to continue.”