UHV uses federal grant to establish new services to prevent violence

Motivational speaker Tamika Hall, front left, uses balloons to represent each part of UHV freshmen's lives. The balloons helped demonstrate the importance of students staying focused as they juggle school and other activities.
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  • For questions or to receive help, contact Elena Torres at 361-570-4141 or torresem@uhv.edu. If Torres is unavailable, her phone number will roll over to a 24-hour answering service.

The University of Houston-Victoria has new services to help prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus after receiving a nearly $300,000 grant in November from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The $299,752, three-year grant is funding the development of violence prevention strategies on campus through a newly formed task force, new personnel and increased education.

"It has been valuable for UHV to receive this grant when we are in the formative stage of developing a residential campus," said Margaret Rice, UHV chief of staff and the grant's project director.

A major part of the grant includes expanding safety and counseling options in the form of three new staff positions - a victim advocate, a female psychologist and a peace officer.

The victim advocate recently started, the psychologist will start in September and a peace officer will be hired soon.

The grant provides part-time funding for each position, but UHV is adding additional funds to make the three positions full time. This demonstrates the importance the university is placing on the initiative and student safety, Rice said.

"With only our third freshman class joining UHV this year, we are still a young university," said Jesus Aros, UHV director of counseling and lead psychologist.

The Women's Resource Center at the University of Houston and the counseling center at UH-Clear Lake were used as examples in expanding the UHV Counseling Center, Aros said.

Elena Torres also recently was hired as the UHV victim advocate. With more than 20 years of experience as a clinical social worker, she has an extensive counseling background in domestic violence; sexual assault; and drug, alcohol and psychiatric problems.

Incoming freshmen also received violence awareness training during the Jaguar Journey new student orientation held before classes started. Two nationally known presenters, Tamika Hall and Tim Collins, offered students both female and male perspectives on violence.

Hall's workshop, "Love Doesn't Leave Bruises," was based on her best-selling book by the same name. She gave a personal account of dating abuse and incorporated interactive activities to teach students the realities of dating violence.

Collins spoke about on-campus dating violence as well as bullying, peer pressure, self-esteem and rape prevention.

The new services offered from the U.S. Department of Justice grant are available to all UHV students, faculty and staff in Victoria, at the UH System teaching centers in Fort Bend County and online.