Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Education Department recognizes SAPAC's approach to sexual violence prevention

U-M was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its outstanding violence prevention efforts. The university was featured in January as one of five institutions with promising approaches to primary sexual violence prevention.

The university's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, in collaboration with partners across the institution uses a series of coordinated intimate-partner violence prevention efforts specifically targeted at first-year students.


Click here to read the Education Department's brief on intimate partner violence in more detail.

"The University of Michigan and SAPAC have offered evidence-based violence prevention, primary sexual violence prevention, and advocacy programs for more than 25 years. We are honored to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a leader in our efforts," says Laura Blake Jones, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. "I am extremely proud of the comprehensive, proactive work that Holly Rider-Milkovich, director of SAPAC, and her dedicated staff and student volunteers have accomplished in recent years." 

Intimate-partner violence is defined as violence between two people in a close relationship, including current and former spouses and dating partners.

Recent studies have demonstrated that women between the ages of 16 and 24 are at the highest risk for intimate-partner violence and that nearly one-third of college students report physically assaulting a dating partner in the previous 12 months.

The program starts with an interactive theater presentation performed by U-M Educational Theater Company of the office of New Student Programs during summer orientation. It models bystander intervention behaviors and identifies men's roles in addressing intimate-partner violence as well as sexual violence.

Students then are required to complete a mandatory, five-hour, online Community Matters course before moving onto campus. The course, administered by University Health Service, focuses on sexual violence prevention and the mitigation of the harmful effects of high-risk alcohol and other drugs.

The confidential, research-based course provides students with accurate information and personalized feedback that encourages them to consider their own decisions and those of their peers regarding sexual assault and alcohol.

Later in the fall semester, students participate in Relationship Remix, a peer-led workshop delivered by SAPAC Peer Educators and UHS Sexperteam members where they reflect upon personal values, discuss healthy relationships, and practice communication skills, including those related to consent.

As a result of attending this workshop, evaluations show 86 percent of participants feel more capable of making decisions that align with their personal values in intimate or sexual relationships, and 91 percent are more aware of the available resources on campus that can help them.

"Our approach is grounded in the belief that we will create a safe and respectful learning community only if we work to prevent violence from occurring in the first place," says Rider-Milkovich. "Students need an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to foster healthy relationships grounded in open communication, mutual respect, honesty and trust. These are important skills students will use throughout their lives, in new and ongoing relationships."

SAPAC is a nationally recognized model for sexual violence prevention. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Crisis Line at 734-936-3333.