Larry Gourdine is on a mission to involve men much more in the fight against rape, sexual abuse and stalking. As the relationship and sexual violence prevention coordinator in UGA’s new Office for Violence Prevention, he is taking a fresh perspective to what is often viewed as a predominantly women’s issue.
“Violence against women affects everyone, including men,” said Gourdine, who came to UGA in October 2006 after working at North Carolina State University for three years in a related position. “We all have women in our lives who we care about. Violence against women will not end until men actively become part of the solution. Simply speaking out and letting our voice be heard is a powerful tool that anyone can use to take a stand.”
UGA’s Office for Violence Prevention is a one-stop place where any member of the UGA community who may experience relationship and sexual violence can find support and a safe environment. Part of Gourdine’s role is providing direction toward the appropriate services such as the women’s clinic at the University Health Center or counselor referral through Counseling and Psychiatric Services on a case-by-case basis.
The new office, located in room 116 of Memorial Hall, is one of three offices under Student Support Services, along with the Office of Judicial Programs and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center. Gourdine works with other units such as the University Health Center to streamline resources and become a more visible presence on campus.
With prevention as a key component, a relationship violence safety plan that can be customized is available on the office’s Web site along with facts and statistics about relationship and sexual violence. To encourage reporting of incidents, an anonymous form is available online that will help the office track trends to improve prevention and response programs at UGA.
“Engaging and empowering the campus community is important in getting everyone involved in promoting safety on campus,” said Gourdine. “A comprehensive approach to promoting safety requires collaboration from both student affairs and academic affairs. There is strength in numbers.”
One of the first programs Gourdine is implementing is Haven, a training program for faculty and staff on how to respond to and assist survivors of relationship and sexual violence. Similar to Safe Space for UGA’s LGBT community, the goal is to provide a “safe haven” for survivors, while giving faculty and staff the necessary tools to be sensitive to the issues and become educated advocates for violence prevention.
Gourdine also makes presentations to students and faculty in the classroom and works with athletes to further promote safety to the UGA community and introduce ways individuals can become involved in the issue.
“The establishment of this office is a significant step forward in the university’s continuing efforts to promote a safe, secure learning environment for all members of the campus community,” said Alan Campbell, senior associate dean for student support.