MERCED - The University of California, Merced, prides itself on
the intimacy of its campus community. With more than 3,400 enrolled
students, just about every face on campus is a familiar one. That
sense of community is important for a number of reasons. It fosters
a collaborative working/learning environment, it increases student
engagement, and it also contributes to campus safety.
A recent grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will enable
UC Merced Police
Departmentto launch programs to maintain the safe campus
environment it has helped to cultivate since the university opened
in 2005. The $299,756 grant provides funding for the department to
create and strengthen preventive, healing and criminal justice
procedures that address violence against women.
According to Rita Spaur, chief of the UC Merced Police
Department, the grant will also fund programs that allow survivors
to report and seek services related to current or past sexual
assault, domestic violence and stalking. The most recent campus
crime statistics show that one sexual assault took place on campus
in 2008. The last sexual assault to occur on campus was in 2006.
“The goal is to implement a comprehensive, multi-phased
collaborative program that reaches out to and educates the campus
community on issues of violence against women, and supports
survivors,” she said. “Even one assault in our community is too many.”
The program will fulfill grant requirements that include
prevention and education programs targeted at dating and domestic
violence, sexual assault and stalking. In addition to preventive
programs, such as self-defense classes, the program will also
address issues related to bystander behavior and peer response.
Aside from helping the campus community maintain its existing
level of safety, Spaur said the three-year grant gives the
university the tools necessary to serve the university population
as it grows.
Nearly half of students enrolled and more than 300 members of
the faculty and staff are women. Projections estimate an influx of
650 to 750 new students each year until UC Merced reaches its
capacity of 25,000.
“Our department has jurisdiction in the state with emphasis over
UC Merced-owned or leased properties and the surrounding square
mile,” Spaur said. “Maintaining the safety and security as the
campus community grows is a primary focus for our department. This
grant will help us establish a culture of zero tolerance for
violence against women that will sustain as UC Merced grows to
The UC Merced Police Department will continue to work with
campus departments, and local nonprofit, law enforcement and
criminal justice agencies to develop a coordinated community
response that encompasses
servicesfor survivors and criminal prosecution.
“The program will build upon the rich experience of community
partners to effectively empower women of the UC Merced community,”
Spaur said. “It will also support other campus and community services.”
The UC Merced Police Department currently offers a
citizen’s academythat examines all aspects of law enforcement
and a R.A.D.
self-defenseclass for women. Both the academy and self-defense
class are offered throughout the year.
Resources for women on campus who are survivors of dating and
domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking in the past or
present are offered through
Counseling and Psychological Services.
“Ensuring the safety of our campus community is a collaborative
effort,” said Fuji Collins, assistant vice chancellor for student
health and wellness. “This grant will give our police department
and campus the resources necessary to keep students, faculty and
staff safe here.”