University News

WIU Incorporates Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education for All New Students

October 10, 2011

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MACOMB, IL - - While the first few months of the semester can be some of the most exciting times for college students, the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative (IVPI) at Western Illinois University recognizes this as a time to grow, and also a time to become aware.

The initiative is funded by a $300,000 grant awarded to WIU in October 2010 by the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office on Violence against Women to reduce domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. In compliance with the DOJ grant regulations, all new students (freshmen and transfer) at Western are required to take an online educational program that teaches them about different forms of interpersonal violence. New students may access the online module beginning Oct. 17 and are expected to complete it by the end of the fall semester. The orientation will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. Participants may log out and return to it at any time. Once it has been completed, participants may return to the website to access the resources at any time.

The online education program is part of a comprehensive prevention programming effort designed to educate students and all members of the campus community about issues that affect them, either through personal experience, knowing someone who is affected or for future reference, explained Justine Johnson, WIU's Interpersonal Violence Prevention coordinator (IVPC).

"WIU is committed to providing prevention measures, as well as to creating a safer environment for survivors to seek assistance," Johnson said. "The initiative encourages and supports bystander intervention, a model where the community and society do not allow or tolerate sexual violence. Anyone and everyone can have a role in ending interpersonal violence."

In addition to the University's expectation that all new students complete the online Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education (IVPE) program, the institution has made it available to all students, faculty, and staff so they also can benefit from the valuable information this tool provides, she added.

According to Johnson, the online IVPE is "interesting, interactive, and uses real examples that are relatable to the average college student."

Johnson is excited to have the online program launched as the University enters the second year of the three-year grant.

"I'm looking forward to the information and resources students and other members of our campus community will receive, because knowledge is empowering," Johnson said.

Tony Smith, a senior social work major from Waukegan, (IL), is one of several students who are volunteering with the IVPI and have completed the online program.

"Taking the IVPE was very beneficial," Smith said. "Having the opportunity to learn statistics about different kinds of interpersonal violence that occur on campuses worldwide is enlightening. Before completing it, I was unaware of all of the things that happen and resources that are available, but now I feel I am well aware and I can take an active role in helping end interpersonal violence. I believe students will enjoy this educational opportunity and they will all be able to benefit from it."

To access and complete the IVPE (beginning Oct. 17), members of the WIU community can go to the website and use their ECom username and password to log in.

WIU has been proactive in interpersonal violence education and prevention for more than 35 years, noted Janine Cavicchia, director of the WIU Women's Center. Western offers a variety of outreach programming to the campus community including Take Back the Night, performances of "The Vagina Monologues," The Clothesline Project, Rape Aggression Defense classes, and outreach programs in residence halls, student organizations, classes, and for anyone who is interested.

For more information about the IVPI or the online prevention education program, to request a speaker on any of these topics, or to find out how to get involved in prevention efforts, contact Johnson at or (309) 298-2242. The Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative is located in the Multicultural Center, Suite 209. Visit

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