In reference to the March 28 Hatchet article (“Assault victims critique system”), I would like to explain and clarify the campus services available to students.
The Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation Team is co-coordinated by University Police Department Director Dolores Stafford and myself. It is very important for survivors to know the SACC team is made up of trained professional staff volunteers who are not exclusively UPD officers.
The team has considered including students as advocates. However, the team was concerned about confidentiality issues and the need for continuity each year. For example, a survivor might be uncomfortable to have an acquaintance respond to a pager call. Also, the SACC team is comprehensibly trained and the fact that they stay on the team for years ensures quality advocacy care. A peer-run advocacy program could be confusing. As it is right now, a survivor has a choice of seeing an advocate (SACC) and/or counselor (University Counseling Center).
There is a large need for additional education about and prevention of sexual assault. A student-run organization would be a perfect fit for fulfilling this need on our campus. If our campus could provide education with advocacy and counseling, we would be offering a comprehensive approach to dealing with sexual assault on our campus.
I would like to clarify that the UCC offers group counseling, short-term individual counseling and crisis intervention to survivors. The UCC has provided support and help to numerous survivors over the years. It is unfortunate that the Hatchet article focused on a few students’ discontent, while not lending a voice to the countless and nameless others who have been greatly helped by our services.
GW currently has multiple avenues on campus for assisting GW survivors (i.e. a student-run support group, SACC, UCC). We could greatly benefit from the start up of a student-run sexual assault prevention program. It is my hope students will meet this call to action by creating this needed educational component at GW.
-The writer is a UCC staff psychologist and co-chair of SACC.