USD’s I CARE — an organization dedicated to providing information about consent and sexual violence prevention — hosted a kickoff event on the Munster University Center west lawn Thursday, Oct. 1.
I CARE was founded in 2017 with federal grant money. Its purpose is to direct students to information and resources on sexual violence prevention and counseling.
Jordan Bonstrom, the USD director of student rights and responsibilities and the coordinator of I CARE, volunteered for the position in February after the previous coordinator resigned. As part of that position, Bonstrom helps set priorities for the organization, one of which is encouraging students to complete their SafeColleges online training.
“The mission really is to prevent sexual violence on campus, and to create a culture of consent and a culture where people support each other and feel welcome here,” Bonstrom said.
I CARE is promoting healthy relationships in October, which is domestic violence awareness month.
“We’re going to really be focusing on what those signs of healthy relationships are,” Bonstrom said. “So they can hopefully help their friends that are maybe not in the healthiest of relationships.”
John Howe, USD’s associate dean of students, serves on the assessment committee of I CARE, which makes sure the organization is meeting the standards of the federal grant it was founded with.
As part of his position in I CARE, Howe said he wants to make sure every student knows they have a role to play in reducing sexual violence on campus.
“I would say that’s the greatest work of my career,” Howe said.
Kim Grieve, USD’s vice president of student services, also serves on the assessment committee of I CARE. Grieve said this semester is about building momentum for I CARE and getting students involved.
“Overall, we want students to have be safe, and have healthy relationships, and know when a relationship is that healthy, and to get resources to help them,” Grieve said.
Bonstrom said he hopes to work to make USD a welcoming and a safe place, and to let students know that if they or a friend are a victim of sexual violence, there are resources available to them.
“If something does happen to someone, please reach out and ask for help,” Bonstrom said. “And we have people that would love to help them as much as we can.”
I CARE is largely staff driven, but Bonstrom said the organization is looking to bring in more student involvement. Part of that involves forming a student advisory council to decide programming and events towards the end of this year.
“One of the big steps in that is this just getting the name out there of what I CARE is,” Bonstrom said.
Although the I CARE kickoff was forced to close early due to cold temperatures and harsh winds, Grieve said she wants to get students involved in understanding healthy relationships, and that the most crucial part of that is consent.
“The most important message for I care to get out to students is today, our message is consent,” Grieve said. “And how important that it is for students to really understand consent.”