Bergen County Community College announced a proactive step in educating students about sexual assault, sexual misconduct, dating violence and domestic violence by introducing online materials to students that they hope will clearly define sexual assault; the rights of the victim and the accused; procedures for filing and resolving complaints; and resources available to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
"At Bergen Community College, our goal is to educate 100 percent of incoming students regarding identifying an abusive relationship and where to go for services for sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking,” said Professor Shari Franschman, director of the Violence Intervention Prevention Center at BCC. “We have found that many college-aged young adults mistaken control with 'He/she must really love me because they want to know where I am all the time.'"
Franschman, along with Naydeen Gonzalez-DeJesus, VP of Student Affairs at BCC, were instrumental in bringing the online resources to the college which was made possible by a grant from the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women.
BCC worked with numerous departments on campus and throughout Bergen County to create the online resources, according to Franschman. One of those resources is Shelter Our Sisters which houses—on average—three students per semester. Additionally, the hotline receives more than a dozen calls per semester.
“Organizing the internal community of professionals within the college and the external community of resources within the county helped us provide the best services possible to students who are facing difficult situations and/or transitions in life,” said Gonzalez-DeJesus. “Our holistic approach to Violence Intervention and Prevention of bringing law enforcement officers, mental health counselors, integrating crisis presentation and information in college courses, partnering with local shelters and community resources has brought forth a renewed sense of commitment to supporting our students in being successful in the classroom and in managing their personal, social and emotional well-being.”
Professor Franschman calls the new educational resources a true “community” effort and further explained that anyone can experience sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, or a sexual assault regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Perpetrators can be anyone: a stranger, someone you have known for a long time, or someone you have just met.
“The new online resource, http://bccviolenceprevention.com, fits right into our goal of having the ability to educate the community," according to Franschman. "Anyone can access the website from the privacy of their home or even speak with a counselor via skype."