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New council to improve response to violence on campus

March 9, 2011

Members of the End Violence on Campus (EVOC) initiative announce the creation of a new University of Wisconsin–Madison council, committed to developing coordinated strategies and procedures in response to sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

The EVOC Coordinating Council, established in December by Dean of Students Lori Berquam and University Health Services (UHS) Executive Director Sarah Van Orman, includes students, faculty and staff from a variety of campus and community offices, including the Division of Student Life, UW Police Department, University Housing, UHS, Domestic Abuse Intervention Service and the Rape Crisis Center.

“Any kind of violence — particularly the kinds most often perpetrated by someone students know — cannot and will not be tolerated,” says Berquam. “The EVOC Coordinating Council has a direct responsibility to serve as the campus coordinated response to violence against women, which includes supporting and improving the range of student services from prevention education, to victim services. It will reinforce the long-standing commitment to make this campus a safe place to live and learn.”

Through a systems-based approach, the council will address violence against women through structured reviews of services, practices and barriers to seeking help.

“Federal and state laws have established minimum requirements for addressing violence on campus, particularly with regard to sexual assault,” says Carmen Hotvedt, UHS violence prevention specialist and chair of the EVOC Coordinating Council. “Beyond that, UW–Madison is taking a proactive stance to ensure that our efforts also address dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. We can enhance victims’ access to available services, eliminate barriers to reporting or getting help, and change the social norms that legitimize violence.”

The coordinating council will:

  • Serve as stewards of the EVOC initiative, ensuring that the services provided to meet the needs of victims, educate students and hold perpetrators accountable best meet the needs of campus;
  • Serve as a place for victim service providers in the community to share their expertise based on their work with students who seek their services instead of, or in addition to, campus-based services;
  • Ensure institutional compliance with relevant laws, procedures, practices and policies through a multidisciplinary review; and
  • Use evidence-based strategies to prioritize which areas need to be addressed on campus and what resources or strategies will be necessary to do so.

This coordinated strategy is recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women and the American College Health Association, to review and strengthen victim response services, disciplinary policies and prevention efforts in a given community.

“The council will examine the intersection of law, best practices and students’ experience to promote a higher level of accountability to intervene in violence before, during and after it happens,” says Hotvedt.

The EVOC initiative launched in September 2009 and is a multidisciplinary effort among 20 campus and community offices dedicated to ending violence against women. The EVOC Coordinating Council meetings will be quarterly and open to the public.

For more information about EVOC, visit