Presidential initiative's next phase to focus on sexual violence prevention
Virginia Tech’s Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group (SVCC) begins the 2023-24 academic year with a strategic focus on prevention, a reframed governance structure, and a new name: the Virginia Tech Sexual Violence Prevention Initiative.
Since its creation by President Tim Sands in 2021 to advance the university’s commitment to addressing and preventing sexual violence, the group has worked to increase transparency, drive cultural transformation, and establish sexual violence prevention as the community’s shared responsibility.
During that time, key accomplishments of the group included developing an inventory of existing sexual violence prevention programs and assessment tools to evaluate their impact, implementing a universitywide prevention campaign, establishing a full-time gender-based violence prevention specialist position, developing the SAFE at VT website, identifying the structures to develop a sustainable model for sexual-based violence prevention, and improving Clery notices to provide more helpful and clear information.
“I commend the members of the SVCC and its subcommittees for their commitment to this important work,” Sands said. “Their efforts have developed the foundation that will support our increased strategic emphasis on prevention.”
The Sexual Violence Prevention Initiative (SVPI) will continue as a presidential priority with a reframed governance structure and steering committee led by Kelly Oaks, associate vice president for equity and accessibility, and guided by an executive leadership team made up of Oaks, Vice President for Student Affairs Frances Keene, and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Lisa Wilkes.
“I am excited and honored to lead SVPI. Over the past two years, we had the opportunity to hear from a variety of voices on campus, implement important changes, and develop a sustainable model for sexual violence prevention,” Oaks said. “We remain guided by the vision of a campus environment free from sexual violence and harassment. The top priority will be strengthening campuswide efforts to prevent sexual violence to help us realize that vision.”
Sexual Violence Prevention Initiative Steering Committee
- Mac Babb, chief of police and director of security, Virginia Tech Police Department
- Paige Bik, assistant director, prevention, Women’s Center at Virginia Tech
- Meagan Brem**, assistant professor, Department of Psychology
- Chelsea Clery, sexual violence prevention specialist, Hokie Wellness
- Amy Epperley, director, Hokie Wellness
- Kristina Hartman**, associate, University Legal Counsel
- Jennifer Johnson**,professor and chair, Department of Sociology
- Frances Keene*, vice president for Student Affairs
- Meghan Kuhn, program director, Sexual Violence Prevention Initiative
- Kelly Oaks*, associate vice president for equity and accessibility
- Katie Polidoro , Title IX coordinator
- Ellen Plummer, associate vice provost, academic administration
- Mark Sikes, dean of students
- Christine Dennis Smith, co-director, Women’s Center at Virginia Tech
- Shaka Sydnor, director, Dean of Student's Office
- Lisa Wilkes*, vice president for strategic initiatives, Office of the President
*Executive Leadership Team
**Steering committee advisor
“We have invited key university leaders who have the ability to connect with and influence our diverse campus communities and get things done,” Wilkes said. “They will work to build a sexual violence prevention strategy that will provide opportunities for the entire Hokie community to be engaged.”
Meghan Kuhn will serve as SVPI program director with a specific focus on ensuring active and consistent student engagement in the ongoing prevention work. Applications are currently being accepted for two new student advisory committees, undergraduate and graduate, that will provide opportunities for interested students to give regular and ongoing input into developing strategies.
“Undergraduate, and graduate and professional students remain a vital part of this initiative, and we want to ensure that they are involved,” Keene said. “That will include opportunities to participate in advisory groups with reasonable time commitments that minimize potential conflict with class schedules.”
Faculty members involved in research related to sexual violence prevention will also be engaged. The Sexual Violence Prevention Initiative is one of many efforts to address sexual violence on our campus. Additional information, news, and opportunities to participate will be shared on the Sexual Violence Prevention Initiative web page.