UC Merced was awarded the Allied Professional Award from the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus this month at the group’s annual ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, nominated the UC Merced Violence Prevention Program for the award, one of five given by the congressional caucus.
This is the first time a university has won the award, and with this week being National Crime Victims’ Week and this month being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it couldn’t be a more fitting time for the campus to be honored for its efforts.
The program began in March 2010, and its outreach has been on a constant climb ever since. The campus has seen a significant increase in the reporting of sexual violence, dating/domestic violence and stalking crimes to law enforcement, which Director Kari Mansager attributes to the close relationship between campus and community police officers and the Violence Prevention Program Campus Advocate.
“Before our program existed, there were about two reports per year, whereas last year we had 27 survivors report to campus or community law enforcement,” Mansager said. “Our constituents know that these behaviors are not OK, they know where to go for help, and they know they will be supported by their community.”
The number of clients served has more than doubled — from 23 in 2010 to 56 in 2011. In 2011, 98 percent of incoming undergraduates attended mandatory educational programs at the start of the semester, and more students engaged with the program’s educational outreach efforts throughout the year — 4,045 compared with 725 in 2010.
“The UC Merced Violence Prevention Program has provided a safe place for survivors to turn to during a traumatic time,” Costa said. “As co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, it is humbling to recognize our Valley’s tireless advocates for the rights of crime victims.”
The 70-plus member Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, founded in 2006 by Costa and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, sponsors substantive legislation as well as signal-sending resolutions.
“I nominated UC Merced’s Violence Prevention Program for this award because of the remarkable work they have done in just a few short years to prevent crime and help survivors of violence recover,” Cardoza said. “This Violence Prevention Program has worked closely with the community and law enforcement officials to educate students with a positive and proactive approach that has proven itself incredibly successful.”
Mansager and Campus Advocate Patricia Bauer said they are proud to serve the community and look forward to continuing the work they and others have done.
“We provide trainings for student judicial affairs and law enforcement, and we have created a Coordinated Community Response Team made up of about 30 campus and community representatives,” Mansager said. “We talk about these issues in a way that is positive and proactive and we make it clear that it is everyone’s responsibility to help prevent these crimes.”