- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan universities, colleges and community groups will have a chance to develop programs for preventing campus sexual assault with $500,000 in grants from the state, the Michigan State Police director announced Monday.

The announcement came during the state’s first campus sexual assault prevention summit in Lansing, hosted by Michigan’s first lady Sue Snyder. The summit gathered some 450 college and university representatives, law enforcement officials, students and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss how sexual assault can be prevented on the state’s campuses.

The Michigan State Police will give out the $500,000 in grants for new programs focused on education and prevention, Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said.

“This is the first time the state of Michigan has dedicated general funds that will actually work to prevent sexual assault in Michigan,” Etue said to loud applause.

Gov. Rick Snyder said the grants will allow groups to be creative, thoughtful and forward-looking with how they structure new programs. Asked how the state would measure progress on the issue, Snyder noted that traditional metrics might not work in this case, since the number of reported sexual assaults could increase as people are encouraged to come forward.

Sue Snyder said she plans to visit colleges and universities after the school year starts to find out what they’ve learned from the summit.

“So many different colleges and universities have different practices,” she said. “We all have to come together and talk about our best practices, what’s working, what’s not working.”

In her opening remarks, Snyder said that, as a mother, the well-being of young adults and students “has always been a priority” for her. The Snyders’ youngest child recently completed her first year at the University of Michigan, and the issue has taken on personal meaning as a result.

She added that the “overwhelming” positive response to the summit “proves our commitment as a state to tackling this sensitive but important issue” and said she hopes the effort can help “make Michigan a leader in the fight against sexual assault on our college and university campuses.”

“It is everyone’s responsibility to step up and play a role in the prevention of these crimes,” she said.

The summit was co-hosted by Republican Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren along with Republican Rep. Laura Cox and Democratic Rep. Marilyn Lane.

The U.S. Education Department said last year it was investigating dozens of universities and schools, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley University, for the way they handle sexual assault allegations.

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Online:

Summit website: http://www.endcampussexualassault.com

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