Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
October 8, 2008
DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University announced today that it has received a grant of $1,682,225 from the U.S. Department of Justice to cover a portion of the expenses incurred to help the campus recover from the tragic shootings of Feb. 14.
The grant money comes from the DOJ Office for Victims of Crime, which disburses money amassed from the sale of assets seized from criminals, forfeited bail bonds, fines paid by criminals and similar sources.
About one third of the money ($489,000) will be used to cover expenses related to the university’s immediate response to the tragedy. That would include expenses like the bringing hundreds of counselors to campus, assisting families of the victims, a candle light vigil and the official memorial service.
“When tragedy struck, we took whatever steps necessary to help our campus community recover. We focused on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of students, faculty and staff, and we did so without immediate concern for how to cover those expenses. It was a crucial and necessary investment,” said NIU President John Peters. “I believe the wisdom of those choices is validated by the decision of the Department of Justice to fund our request, and we are very grateful for the grant.”
The remainder of the money, about $1.2 million, will provide funding to support the operation of the university’s Office of Support and Advocacy.
The OSA was created by NIU to specifically to help those most directly affected by the shootings – people who were in the classroom or immediate vicinity, their families and the families of the deceased.
That office acts as an advocate for those individuals, connecting them with campus resources to meet any ongoing needs. Specifically, the office provides direct and indirect counseling to students and family members, assists students with on-going academic-related concerns, helps individuals navigate crime victims assistance and offers various opportunities for peer group support.
The OSA also coordinates campus communication regarding the tragedy, works as a liaison to families of the deceased and is invovled with planning the permanent memorial and the events surrounding the one-year marker of the shootings.
“Research has shown that the effects of traumatic events like this can be felt on a campus for several years after the event,” said Scott Peska, director of the OSA. “This grant from the Department of Justice will ensure that our office will continue to provide appropriate services as they are needed over the next few years.”
# # #