Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 13, 2017

CARE Initiative Provides Resources for Community

Sha'Kera King

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Social Justice, Manchester hired Jillian ‘Jay’ Watts as the first director of the new CARE Initiative, which stands for Creating a Respectful Environment, and works to provide resources and support service programs designed to aid in the prevention of sexual violence, domestic/dating violence, and stalking through coordinated community response, education, and culturally responsive practices.

Established in August 2017, the DOSJ awarded CARE with $300,000 to help prevent stalking, dating and social violence. Manchester was also the only school in the state to receive the grant. The program was created to provide students with the knowledge to make sure their relationships are healthy and safe. There have been many different events going on campus involving CARE, such as the VIAs “Let's Talk about It,” “Moonlight” and “#RelationshipGoals” that provide students with that knowledge.  Going to some of the events that CARE hosts can have a big impact on the way students look at relationships, whether it is family, friends or significant others.

As a leader, Watts is very qualified to begin Manchester’s first year of the CARE Initiative. "The program is very cultural relevant, very responsive and we are inclusive to different parts of the world different races and more,” said Watts. "We see the needs of the students and some people may think just because we are grown that we know everything, but the 4 people I also work with don’t see it that way. We want to teach the world everything they need know."

CARE taps into different populations no matter someone’s religious, political or cultural affiliations. "Some people shy away from the talk because it could be a hard topic to talk about. Sometimes some students don't feel comfortable talking to us, which is why our 4 peer educators are here and they can talk to them,” Watts states.

What makes CARE unique is that it shows interest in the adults as well as students on this campus and the Fort Wayne campus. The office differs from others because all of the peer educators come from different backgrounds, which could make others feel more comfortable speaking out or getting help when they can talk to someone they can relate to.

Watts hopes the program will create gender and political diversity at Manchester. "This [diversity] is a serious topic, which is why we try to make the topics not hard to discuss, why we name the VIAs different things to make them interesting and not to just label it as domestic violence,” explained Watts.

No matter what kind of relationship someone is in, whether it's polyamorous, queer, monogamous or anything in between, as Watts discusses, having a healthy relationship is important. "We want people to look at things differently, especially family relationships because sometimes family starts the issues within the person," Watts states.

Watt’s foundation for the program stems from personal experiences, which big factor in the content of her work and why she wants to help others better their relationships. "I'm a survivor of domestic violence, which is why I feel it is my duty to help others stop situations from happening or perpetrators to help the program evolve.”

In addition, Watts has also expressed her desire to help others understand that no relationship is perfect, but that society should uphold a standard of how they should be treated by others.