SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Jodi Solito, director of the Slippery Rock University Women’s Center, recently served as a panelist for a national audio conference on preventing violence against women. The Advocacy Learning Center, a front-line program working to strengthen advocacy, invited Solito to participate in the 90-minute conference.
The audio conference included more than 100 experts from around the country talking about the latest big-picture approaches to preventing violence against women.
“For the call, we were talking about what people do to prevent violence against women, not from the perspective of the individual agency, but from the bigger picture, the whole system,” Solito said. “We took a look at the law enforcement side of things, the court system and how you advocate for women across the spectrum of services.”
The Advocacy Learning Center is a two-year course, designed by a multi-disciplinary team of advocates that develops strategies for changing responses to violence against women and works with survivors. Solito and Karla Fonner, SRU program coordinator of The Bridge Project, are part of the multi-disciplinary team.
Solito, who became director of The Women’s Center in 2007, said current college women face different issues than previous generations. The proliferation of the Internet, social media such as Facebook and cellular phones leaves them more vulnerable to cyber harassment, Solito said.
“The technology such as smart phones and Facebook lends itself to stalking,” Solito said. She said students should not post their whereabouts or class schedules online.
The other trend, Solito said, is an increase in interpersonal violence and emotional abuse related to relationships. One of the problems with couples that break up is that students most likely have an ex partner’s cell phone number, Facebook information and other contact information.
The Women’s Center offers a number of advocacy and prevention programs for students, including the Bridge Project. The Bridge Project provides education to students on preventing sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking.
Solito said the center has fostered a more open relationship with University Police and that more awareness of services exists.
“We’re like a conduit, we work to offer programming on campus to effect climate change,” she said. “We’re looking at the big picture.”
Praxis International Inc., a non-profit organization that bridges that gap between the needs of people and social services that are currently available, sponsors the Advocacy Learning Center. The Advocacy Learning Center curriculum includes audio conferencing, site visits, retreats and independent study. Topics include listening, dialogue and the skills of open communication, Solito said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.