Prevention of Gender Violence Is Focus of New CU-Boulder Position

October 9, 2008

Davian Gagne, an experienced social worker and outreach director, has been named the gender violence prevention and education coordinator for the University of Colorado at Boulder, a new five-year position that was created as part of the Lisa Simpson lawsuit settlement.

Gagne, who has worked with the Moving to End Sexual Assault program in Boulder and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, began her appointment in July.

"We created a position to work on gender violence prevention and education," said Mary Friedrichs, director of CU-Boulder's Office of Victim Assistance. "This is a new direction for the office, which has always been about response. Davian Gagne will be working to help change the climate that produces things like gender violence."

Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person on the basis of gender, gender expression or sex, according to Gagne. While males and females are subject to it, women and girls are the main victims. Gender-based violence can include many things such as sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and discrimination based on gender.

"This is a great opportunity for CU to be a leader in terms of taking the initiative and addressing gender violence on campus," Gagne said. "CU can be a model for other universities and colleges in terms of addressing gender violence and being a leader."

Gagne's approach is to empower the whole community to work toward a healthier environment. She believes that prevention work needs to involve consistent and continuous education.

She is putting together a student advisory board and encourages students who would like to be involved in gender violence prevention work and education to contact her.

Gagne said she is excited to come up with creative ways to engage the whole CU community and thinks the program is uniquely situated to do so.

"The program is unique because it is not housed within a women's center or another program, it is separate and autonomous," she said.

Gagne has extensive experience in education and prevention efforts dealing with gender violence. While working with the Moving to End Sexual Assault program she trained high school students to be prevention educators and give presentations to their peers about gender violence and heterosexism.

She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work from the University of Denver.

The Office of Victim Assistance provides free, confidential services to students, staff and faculty members who have gone through a life-changing incident. In addition the office provides guidance to concerned friends of victims.

"If people want to come and talk about their situation, and explore how they can best deal with it, we are an important resource," Friedrichs said.

More information on the CU-Boulder Office of Victim Assistance is available at www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/victimassistance/.

To contact Gagne call 303-492-5951 or e-mail davian.gagne@colorado.edu.

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