Justice Department Recognizes Grassroots Sexual Violence Coalition with Ronald Reagan Public Policy Award
WASHINGTON — The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, presented the Ronald W. Reagan Public Policy Award to the Every Voice Coalition, an alliance founded in 2016 by students, alumni, allies and survivors of sexual violence in Massachusetts.
The award honors those whose leadership, vision and innovation have led to significant changes in public policy and practice that benefit crime victims.
“The Every Voice Coalition has generated tremendous momentum across college campuses, drawing urgent attention to the scourge of sexual violence and helping to change attitudes about how people approach the subject of sexual assault on campus,” said Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of OJP. “This grassroots alliance of student leaders is making an impact on campuses and communities across the country, engaging students, empowering survivors and sending a powerful message that sexual assault will not be tolerated.”
The Every Voice Coalition empowers the next generation of civically engaged community leaders. Their chapters in 12 states and presence on more than 50 college campuses across the country advocate for legislative change to end what the American Medical Association has called the “silent violence epidemic” that is campus sexual violence. The Coalition teaches students the tools of grassroots, legislative advocacy to impact policy change in their own communities. The student-written, survivor-centered Every Voice Coalition legislation promotes comprehensive measures to combat sexual violence and support survivors on college campuses. It ensures that survivors have access to free medical and legal support services and supports anti-retaliation protections for reporting parties. It requires confidential advising services and encourages evidence-based annual prevention and response training for employees and students.
Most important, by mandating that colleges publish data about the sexual violence on their campuses, the coalition’s legislative efforts hold colleges accountable to act against this violence and work toward prevention. To date, this legislation has been signed into law in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and Hawaii, though each state bill differs in specifics. More states are expected to follow suit to protect students on college campuses.
“The Every Voice Coalition is sending a clear signal that students will not remain silent when they see evidence of sexual assault,” said Kristina Rose, Director of OVC. “This grassroots effort, which is growing and strengthening by the day, is allowing the voices of sexual assault survivors to be heard while delivering the full support of their communities.”
Every April, OVC leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald W. Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance is taking place April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.