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Diné College receives federal grant to combat on-campus violence

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Diné College student Reuben John, top, helps instructor Donny Moore teach techniques on how to get away from a choke hold during a sexual assault awareness and prevention conference on April 12, 2018 at the Sen. John Pinto Library at Diné College's south campus in Shiprock.

FARMINGTON — Diné College is the recipient of a federal grant to develop and strengthen campus security and programs that address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus.

The college announced in a press release that it received a $299,912 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, an agency under the U.S. Department of Justice.

The office administers the grant through a program that focuses on reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campuses.

The campus program – as identified by the office – strengthens the response of higher education institutions to these crimes and enhances collaboration among campuses, law enforcement and victim advocacy organizations, according to the office's website.

Laura Rogers, the office's acting director, said in a statement to Diné College that the campus program provides a unique opportunity for higher education institutions to establish multidisciplinary approaches to combat such crimes.

Diné College has its main campus in Tsaile, Arizona, and branch campuses in Shiprock and Crownpoint, and in Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock, Arizona.

Bernie Dotson, spokesperson for the college, said the resources developed from the grant will pertain to each campus.

"It would address situations of domestic violence, stalking, etc. There will also be prevention (educational) seminars and meetings offered to students and staff on these topics," Dotson wrote in an email.

Diné College employee Lavine Blackmountain addresses a question to self-defense instructor Donny Moore during a sexual assault awareness and prevention conference on April 12, 2018 at the Sen. John Pinto Library at Diné College's south campus in Shiprock.

There were no reports of sexual assault, dating violence or stalking in 2017 and in 2018 at any of the campuses, according to the college's annual security and fire report released on Oct. 1, 2019.

The document lists nine reports of domestic violence in 2017 and three reports in 2018 at the campus in Tsaile. Tsaile is the only campus with residential halls. It also explains that crime statistics are collected by the college's campus security department on student incidents that are reported for the calendar year and are identified by terms and definitions of the Clery Act.

The college has a Campus Security and Emergency Response Committee that it started in 2014 to ensure compliance with the Clery Act. Among the committee's responsibilities is to enforce state and federal safety laws and to develop emergency response protocols.

Velveena Davis is a coordinator for the committee and the principal investigator for the federal grant, according to the college's press release.

"Our goal is to expand on our training program on self-defense and prevention efforts among our students and the community and train our security personnel to obtain the skills needed when answering calls on domestic violence," Davis said in the release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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Diné College's south campus in Shiprock is pictured on Sept. 15, 2016.