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The Lotus Initiative

The Lotus Initiative: A Commitment to Ending Violence

Mount Saint Mary’s University has long been committed to preventing and responding to sexual violence — through strong policies, hosting education and awareness events for the entire campus community, and specialized care from trained staff and advocates. To further our commitment, Mount Saint Mary’s is expanding these efforts through The Lotus Initiative — a project supported by funding from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. Under this initiative, the Mount will advance comprehensive, ongoing prevention education and training for students and staff, foster strategic collaboration between campus leaders and community experts, and holistically strengthen our campus efforts both to reduce violence and support survivors.

The Story Behind the Lotus

The Lotus flower has long been a symbol of resilience and rebirth. The flower’s unique life cycle — its emergence and reemergence from murky water into a beautifully bloomed flora — is analogous to human resiliency. Despite the harshest adversities and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we are incredibly resourceful beings. We all possess an innate drive to survive and propensity to thrive, even after living through trying or traumatic experiences like sexual violence.

The Lotus flower does not bloom on its own however; it is part of an eco-community that nurtures its unique growth. Similarly, the Mount aims to cultivate an enriching environment that nurtures students’ inherent resiliency and strengths, and empowers all students to join in our efforts to prevent violence from playing out in our community. Through interactive workshops, engaging dialogues, increased access to community and campus support systems, and exposure to diverse experiences and programming, we strive to expand our culture of care so that all students are equipped to flourish, and be agents of change in their own lives and in the lives of others impacted by sexual violence.

The Campus Grant Program

The Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women created its campus grant program in 1999 to support higher education institutions in implementing comprehensive responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The program offers grant funds to bolster culturally responsive and survivor-centric approaches to care, provide advocacy and on-campus services for victims, increase engagement from community experts, and enhance campus security and investigations procedures. Mount Saint Mary’s University commits to this work in solidarity with campuses across the nation that are also implementing expanded prevention initiatives through this funding opportunity. The Mount is honored and excited to be a part of a broader national shift to help our college campuses be violence free.

Coordinated Community Response Team

The Lotus Initiative is steered by a multi-disciplinary team called the Coordinated Community Response Team. This core team is comprised of leadership from Campus Security, Health Services, the Center for Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Counseling and Psychological Services, Residence Life and Student Affairs, as well as community representatives from Peace Over Violence, the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center and the Los Angeles Police Department. The mission of the team is to “create a campus culture where students are confident and comfortable identifying, preventing, intervening and seeking help for incidents of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.” To achieve this broad goal, the team will work together to:

  • expand sexual violence prevention education and training for staff and students;
  • increase transparency about reporting and investigations protocols and procedures;
  • comprehensively examine University policy and procedures pertaining to sexual violence;
  • increase awareness of, and access to, off-campus services for survivors.

Resources & Partners

Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center

The Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center (RTC) has been a nationally recognized service provider for survivors of sexual violence since 1973. RTC provides free and comprehensive care for both child and adult victims of sexual violence 24 hours a day. Services offered include medical and forensic exams, accompaniment during police reporting, advocacy, crisis counseling and longer-term psychotherapy, information about rights and options, as well as transportation to the center to receive services. All services are free and optional to survivors.

424.259.7208 | uclahealth.org/santa-monica/rape-treatment

Peace Over Violence

Peace Over Violence is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities that are free from all forms of sexual violence. They are committed to this mission through providing 24/7 emergency services, Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART), case management, legal services, education, self-defense, advocacy, support groups and more. At the core of their work is the fundamental belief that all forms of sexual violence — domestic violence, sexual assault, interpersonal violence — are preventable.

Hotlines:
Central Los Angeles: 213.626.3393
South Los Angeles: 310.392.8381
West San Gabriel Valley: 626.793.3385
peaceoverviolence.org

Get Involved:

Email mstaudenraus@msmu.edu to learn more about opportunities to support our efforts.

  • Become a peer advocate and help be a critical part of the prevention and support system on campus.
  • Serve with us! We are now recruiting for student and faculty interested in serving on the Lotus Initiative’s Coordinated Community Response Team.
  • Volunteer at one of our events!


This project is supported by Grant No. 2017-WA-AX-0023 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence
Against Women.