UNC was one of 27 universities and one of only two North Carolina colleges to receive the grant, which was announced Wednesday.
Christi Hurt, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, said the grant money will pay for the Carolina Women’s Center’s gender violence services coordinator position for three years and support the One Act and HAVEN programs, which train people to respond to and prevent gender violence and sexual assault.
“The gender violence services coordinator is one of the most in-demand positions on campus,” Hurt said.
Because Cassidy Johnson, the gender violence services coordinator, is one of few people on campus who can help students confidentially, Hurt said she’s an important resource to students dealing with sexual assault.
“Seeing Cassidy or seeing the gender violence services coordinator is a really appealing option for students who are trying to suss out their options and want some support while they figure that out,” Hurt said. “And she’s been, I think, phenomenally helpful to students of all genders on campus as they’ve been looking at how to navigate this system.”
The grant is the result of a partnership between the women’s center and student affairs, Hurt said. The Department of Justice declined to comment.
In a spring systemwide review of centers, the Board of Governors reviewed the women’s center and closed several other centers across the state. Rather than closing the women’s center or recommending a budget cut, the board’s review committee recommended the University look into putting more money into the center.
“Our committee was particularly moved by the fact that the director of the center made the case that they not only do great work, which I think is true, but they’re so understaffed with counselors that they don’t reach all that they should or would,” said Jim Holmes, chairman of the BOG working committee.
Holmes said he thinks supporting the women’s center is an important step in supporting students.
“Protecting our young people and giving our young people support ... that’s one of our fundamental missions and obligations,” he said.
Rachel Allen, the co-chairwoman of UNC student group Carolina Advocating for Gender Equality, said it’s important to educate students on sexual assault response and prevention resources.
“It’s just really important for students at the University to understand that there are tons of places on-campus and off-campus to get help after an incident, and one of those is the women’s center,” she said.
Allen said organizations like hers and the women’s center promote dialogue.
“I think this is a conversation that needs to continue to happen at the University.”