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ICARE Seeks a Grant Renewal and Further Program Outreach

     This academic year, USD saw an influx in reports of sexual assaults on campus. In the wake of the sentencing and ultimate adjudication of a former men’s basketball player, prevention and outreach became a focus between staff and student organizations. 

     The timely warnings were also a point of conversation among the Student Government Association’s respective committees. 

     Kacy Tubbs, former senator and chair of Student Affairs, said the response was “pertinent for SGA to focus on.” 

     Initiatives included creating a committee to change the current sexual required training for USD students, as well as hosting panel discussions with university staff. 

     The school year began with multiple notices of sexual violence. In the first full month of the fall semester, five reports of sexual assault were made, resulting in timely-warnings. The incidents occurred in many on-campus locations, from an unknown fraternity house to a parking lot. 

     Timely warnings are notices given to the campus community via email that detail when and where the incident occurred. The notices are in compliance with the Clery Act, a law that requires colleges and universities nationwide to report instances of crime on campus.

     ICare, USD’s office of prevention and advocacy against violence, began due to a fund granted from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women in 2016. That grant ended in 2019. 

     When their first grant ended, the office was run by other positions in Student Services. 

Rebecca Kaiser, Coordinator of ICare, said efforts to renew the grant are underway. 

     “A lot of energy came in 2021 to apply for a new grant and we’ve been working through that process now,” Kaiser said. 

     The new potential grant could be worth up to $400,000, distributed over the next three years. Kaiser said there are plans in place for both scenarios of renewal or rejection. 

     The money would cover future programming and resources for students, staff and faculty, including training and events that educate and raise awareness about all forms of interpersonal violence.

     “If we really do want to create change that would be sustainable and lasting, I think we need one more round of funding here,” Kaiser said.  

     ICare’s response and programming following the reports of this year focused on communication. 

     “I see my response in trying to motivate everybody else to do a response that they have within their power,” Kaiser said. 

     Some of ICare’s programming included collaboration with student organizations like Pave. 

     “I think this year PAVE has had the most impact in the story we tell about this school year,” Kaiser said. 

     PAVE (Promoting Awarewness, Victim Empowerment) is a student organization with a mission of prevention against sexual violence. They collaborated with USD Athletics for a mens’ Basketball game dedicated to sexbal assault awareness in January, after former   USD men’s basketball player Mihai Carcoana was arrested and charged with second degree rape of a student. The basketball game was a feat Kaiser said she tried to make happen last year. 

     “It’s hard for me to do that as a fellow staff member because you have to tread very lightly… but if things come from the students, their voices I think are just so much more powerful,” she said. 

     Аccording to PAVE President Abigail Bluvas, their organization created an updated crisis plan including where to make reports and how to help someone in need that was distributed across campus. 

     Other programming from PAVE this year included the annual Denim Day and “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” a walk that collaborated with other student organizations and University Police. 

     The grant renewal decision for ICare will be finalized in October.