SPCSA funds two research projects
Recipients of the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault’s Elizabeth A. Hoffman research grants have begun term-long projects that aim to diminish instances of sexual violence and increase awareness of Dartmouth’s resources. Bridget Lynn ’15 is studying the effectiveness of on-campus sexual assault resources like the sexual assault peer advisor program, and Silvia Arora ’16 is investigating the judicial review process at peer institutions.

The SPCSA-sponsored $750 grant was established to encourage students to explore issues surrounding sexual assault and make a difference in the Dartmouth community through research. “Sometimes you feel like you want to help, but you don’t really know how,” Lynn said. “Just being able to gather as much information as possible about certain problems around this issue and make recommendations helps me feel like I’m contributing in some way.” SPCSA vice president Gus Ruiz Llopiz ’14, who helped establish the grant, said that Lynn and Arora were selected because their proposals demonstrated interest in the topic and were well-designed. “We were specifically looking for student research plans that have practical and concrete implications,” said Carla Yoon ’15, a member of SPCSA. Llopiz said the SPCSA received many applications that proposed public events or art projects that the committee could not fund because the program is focused on research. For her project, Lynn has talked to various individuals involved in providing on-campus sexual assault resources, like first-year undergraduate advisors, Safety and Security officers and Sexual Abuse Awareness Program coordinators. Lynn also organized student focus groups to gauge awareness of sexual assault-related resources and ask students how the College can improve its sexual violence prevention programs. Lynn added that she thinks her research will help the College publicize existing resources for sexual assault survivors. Arora is studying judicial review systems equivalent to Dartmouth’s Committee on Standards process at other Ivy League universities and small liberal arts colleges. After researching policies online, Arora calls each school to verify information. She noted that many policies are difficult to find and take time to review. Arora said she was inspired to apply for the grant after becoming aware of sexual violence on campus and hearing about domestic violence while working at Planned Parenthood last summer. Yoon said she thinks that Arora’s project will show the Dartmouth community how peer institutions address sexual violence and help the College properly deal with sexual assault perpetrators. Once selected, Lynn and Arora worked with SPCSA student advisors to finalize their projects, a piece of the program implemented last spring after feedback from the grant’s pilot program. The SPCSA will include the results of Lynn’s and Arora’s research in its annual public recommendations. Last year’s recommendations included asking the administration to release institutional data on sexual violence at Dartmouth and students to seek training, and encourage their peers to as well. “There is a lot of discussion about sexual assault, but to have real change, we need to make sure that whatever steps we are taking are informed by research,” Yoon said. Llopiz said that Arora’s and Lynn’s research will be presented at the SPCSA’s sexual assault symposium on April 4. The President’s Office and the Dean of the College’s Office provided the $1,500 for the grants and endowed the SPCSA with $12,000 to sustain the program. Last year’s pilot program gave two students mini-grants to conduct research on engaging men in combating sexual assault and training faculty leading off-campus programs.
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