2015 calendar raises sexual assault awareness, funds

Sarah King
News Editor

Capt. Sean Ingram is one of several VCU PD officers featured in the department’s 2015 calendar, which can be purchased for $15 at Barnes and Noble. Proceeds benefit a local non-profit dedicated to women’s empowerment. Photo courtesy of VCU Police Department

The VCU Police Department and School of the Arts collaborated on an initiative to help students remember to date their papers “2015,” while also fundraising for a good cause.

A 2015 calendar featuring various VCU PD officers and their thoughts on the pertinence of reporting sexual assaults is now on sale for $15 at the campus Barnes and Noble.

The project’s goal is to raise $1,000 for the YWCA of Richmond, a non-profit organization that offers free services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

“We wanted to address the issue of sexual assault head on and let our community know that VCU Police officers are here for them,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti.

The VCU PD’s latest fundraising initiative further bolsters the department’s reputation for their effective community policing and outreach efforts.

“Every chance we get we will raise awareness, encourage prevention and demand individual accountability by every member of the community,” Venuti said.

At the beginning of the academic year, Venuti presented safety information to VCU department leaders, and emphasized the police department’s “open-door policy” for collaborative projects.

It wasn’t long before Sasha Freyer, the photo and film department chair for the School of the Arts, approached Venuti with the idea for the calendar.

“I think we would all agree that having a collaboration between departments was truly something that benefits VCU,” Venuti said.

The project was photographed by students of the School of the Arts, and features VCU PD officers at various locations on the Monroe Park Campus and throughout the city.

Venuti said that together the departments addressed a serious issue in higher education in a non-traditional way. He added that this was an opportunity to bring an issue that’s critically important to the VCU community to the forefront.

“Having these highly talented students be a part of the creative process speaks volumes about how students, faculty and staff can all come together to address problems in our community as a team,” he said.

Venuti added the importance he and the department place on emphasizing and cultivating a culture of respect, bystander intervention and helping others get the help they need — whether they be sexual assault survivors, or someone who wants to change their negative behavior.

“At the end of the day our goal was to make people at VCU feel more comfortable about coming forward about sexual assault — whether that be by calling police, calling a counselor or contacting someone else from the extensive list of resources at VCU or in Richmond,” Venuti said.

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