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DSU receives grant to launch safe space for sexual assault response and prevention

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

Delaware State University receives a two-year grant to develop a dedicated sexual assault response and prevention program on campus.

The $300,000 award is from the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, and DSU will use it to support a Safe Space Project, based at the university’s Hope House at DSU Downtown.

Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Associate Dean Dr. Eleanor Kiesel says there will be a licensed mental health provider for individual therapy, but they want to offer other wellness activities too.

“The sematic response of trauma, you know those physical manifestations of trauma, through circle groups, through yoga, through meditation, a multi-tiered healing approach," Kiesel says. "And we’ll have a coordinator that will coordinate all of those services. We hope to be able to do some equine therapy and really deal with a lot of evidence based protocols for trauma healing.”

A new Safe Space Coalition, comprised of over 100 students, parents, community members and DSU employees, is advising DSU’s administration on creating a safer campus. Kiesel says in light of several recent campus sexual assault incidents, students are pushing for a program like this.

“We need to be sure that on campus, we are doing everything that we can possibly be doing," Kiesel says. "And the students weren’t feeling like we were. So we initiated the coalition to really look into and get feedback from students about what we can do on campus.”

The project will be located at the newHope House on DSU’s Downtown campus which currently houses the University’s Food Bank, drug/alcohol support groups, as well as research and experiential learning activities.

“But it’s not the whole ball of wax," Kiesel says. "We are moving forward and trying to get all the services and the protocols and the systems in place to make this a safer campus for students, but that is not coming overnight.”

She notes no launch date is set, but they are working to pull resources and staff for the project together as soon as possible.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.