Project SAFE

It is the role of every student, faculty, staff and visitor to strive to make Carlow a safer place. Unfortunately, every year violence occurs, and somebody could have helped stop it. Stopping violence isn’t just about intervening when you see it, but also about making Carlow a better place, and sending out the message that such violence will not be tolerated.

Carlow University has launched Project SAFE in order to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. During the 2019-20 academic year, we received a three-year grant from the Office on Violence against Women through the Department of Justice to develop comprehensive prevention and intervention efforts.

Currently, we are:

  • Creating a Coordinated Community Response to sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
    • We have assembled a team of faculty and staff across the university.
    • We are in the process of creating a SAFE Student Group. If you are interested in working on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, please contact Erin Tunney to join this group
  • Developing a Comprehensive Prevention Program for students, faculty and staff. This program will educate all members of the community on these forms of violence, what they can do to prevent behaviors that promote these forms of violence, and how community members can intervene skillfully to prevent incidents.
  • Enhancing Services for Those who have Experienced Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence or Stalking. We are partnering with Health and Counseling, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine (AYAM) and Women’s Center and Shelter (WC&S).
  • Partnering with Law Enforcement: Carlow Police and Pittsburgh Bureau Police are partners in this project. We are developing trainings required for all Carlow Police and working to build relationships between the police and the community.
  • Partnering with Title IX and Student Conduct Team: We are working to ensure all conduct staff are fully trained on these issues and that policies and practices are in line with best practices.

How can we create a SAFE Community?

Though recognizing violence and intervening safely can help stop it, there is also many other ways to make the Carlow Community a safer place. To promote a safe and respectful community for all:

  • Educate yourself.
  • Speak out against gender stereotypes.
  • Challenge sexist, racist and homophobic jokes, rumors, comments and emails.
  • Reflect on your own behaviors, and make sure you do not degrade others.
  • Believe and support survivors of sexual violence.
  • Attend training, workshops, and rallies that challenge oppression.
  • Attend trainings, workshops, and rallies that seek to end sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Join Student Groups who focus on ending power-based violence.
  • Join the SAFE student Group.

For more information, please contact Project Coordinator, Erin Tunney, PhD (email:


Understanding consent is an important part of creating a safer community when it comes to sexual violence. Unfortunately, just knowing that No means No is not enough. Truly having consent within a relationship takes work and requires everyone to understand various dynamics of power as well as have an open communication skills and practice. One thing that often gets overlooked is the intersection between trauma and consent. Without deeply knowing someone’s history, it is impossible to understand if someone reaction to intimacy is true consent. 

True consent is built of a framework: 

  • Freely Given: Often people assume this only mean force. But it means so much more. In this freely given means that this is something that all parties want to happen and free form manipulation, coercion, pressure, and takes into consideration power over other people. If someone guilts someone into having sex with them, then it is not truly freely given
  • Reversable: Reversable means that at anytime anyone can change their mind on any part that is happening. This means that if someone is Ok with one part of intimacy and then decides later they are not, they can say so and all parties involved stop. This also means that even if sexual act has started, communication shouldn’t stop, “it is ok to check in to make sure that at this moment, the act is still consensual. If at any time anybody no longer is comfortable with something, it is your responsibility to stop.
  • Informed: Informed means that everybody has all the information about what is happening. You know what risks you are taking by engaging in an act as well as what safety measures are being taken by the other party. This also requires some conversation and open communication before and during any sexual act. If the all parties agree on one thing, but something else occurs then that is not true consent.
  • Enthusiastic: This means that all parties taking place in the act are excited for it to happen. If someone is’nt looking forward to the act, or if they have been pressured to say yes through guilt or through fear (say of breaking up) then this is not true consent and
  • Specific: Consent can be given for some actions and not for others. It is important to know exactly what your partner is ok with and for you not to assume that being ok with one thing, means they are ok with everything. Open communication and verbally confirming can be a good way to make sure.

Having a conversation about consent doesn’t have to be unsexy or kill the mood. Having open conversations is an important way to make sure you and your partner are safe and will in the end create a better relationship.

Men are Allies, What Men Can Do

Research: Prevalence of Violence Against Women and Girls,” Engaging Men & Youth to Prevent Violence Against Women

There are many men’s organizations that are powerfully contributing to the movement to end gender violence. Check out these national men’s organizations that support the feminist movement to end violence against women:

  1. Approach gender violence as a Men’s issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers.
  2. If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. Don’t remain silent.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help. Refer them to Center for Victims, PAAR, or Women’s Center and Shelter.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help now.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Raise money for victim service agencies. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (e.g. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence. Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Speak out about cyber-sexism and misogynist attacks against women on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Protest sexism in new and old media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women (or men). Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example.
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