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Westminster signs memorandum of understanding with local crisis shelter

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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. (WC)-- Westminster College and the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County (CSLC) have worked together over the years to provide support and resources to students, but now the two have formalized their relationship with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) related specifically to sexual violence.

The MOU will strengthen the way the College and CSLC work together to address student sexual assault, domestic or dating violence and/or stalking by providing students with enhanced comprehensive victim services as well as prevention education for the entire campus community.

Westminster students—as residents of Lawrence County—have been previously entitled to CSLC services by calling a 24/7 hotline. CSLC has also offered awareness and education programming to the Westminster community.

Services will be broadened under the MOU, said Stephanie Holzhauser, health educator for sexual violence prevention at Westminster College. CSLC will train key Westminster staff on topics such as victim advocacy, trauma-informed care and the dynamics of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and/or stalking.

Additionally, Westminster staff will provide training to CSLC advocates on Westminster’s Title IX grievance process so they may inform students of their rights and reporting options as well as offer support/advocacy during the campus judicial process.

“Westminster values its important relationship with the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County,” said Holzhauser. “With the memorandum of understanding in place, we will be able to better serve and support all of our students who experience sexual assault.”

The MOU is a result of Westminster’s ongoing commitment to addressing sexual and relationship violence on campus. In 2019, Westminster received a three-year $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The grant established Holzhauser’s position on campus and helped develop the Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT) aimed at preventing and responding to sexual and relationship violence incidents.

One of the strategic goals of the CCRT was for the College to enhance its relationship with CSLC to ensure all sexual violence survivors—including male and LGBTQ+ survivors—have access to services 24/7 through a uniform, campus-wide referral and response process.

The agreement was signed Monday, Oct. 19, by Westminster College President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson; Westminster Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Gina Vance; CSLC Executive Director Debbie Hennon; and CSLC Chief Operations Officer Nicole Amabile.

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