The Rape Crisis Center (RCC) and Office of Prevention Services (OPS) have recently begun new initiatives to improve sexual assault prevention on campus and the resources available to survivors. The RCC released an Interactive Resource Guide, created by two alumnae, to explain the resources available for survivors of sexual assault, and the OPS has collaborated with the Student Union to make bystander training mandatory for all Brandeis club leaders at least once annually.
Ava Blustein ’15 and Evelyn Milford ’16 created the Interactive Resource Guide to ensure a better way to compile information for all students—both those who have suffered from sexual assault and those trying to help others. The guide takes the form of an online survey in which users anonymously answer questions that will direct them to a variety of resources. According to the main page of the guide, “no university actions of any kind, including reports or investigations, will be initiated as a result of your responses. This guide is meant as an additional resource for you, and however you choose to use this information is entirely up to you.”
The Interactive Resource Guide is a crucial step in improving the issue of sexual assault on campus. From the main page, users have a choice of five options: medical attention, hospital accompaniment, counseling, academic accommodations and reporting. With a confidential and anonymous platform, control and agency are restored to survivors who may be uncertain on the next steps to take. It is also a 24/7 resource, accessible anywhere with an Internet connection.
The format of the guide is beneficial to its purpose. Users are walked through their options in what is an uncertain and difficult time in their life, and they are able to scroll through as many pages as they need, so that the guide is a never-ending program that people can use at their own pace. In addition to choosing “yes” or “no,” usually there is also the option to select “unsure” if users want more information before making a decision. For instance, instead of only asking if the user wants to be accompanied to the hospital, the guide explains why an accompaniment to the hospital can be helpful for emotional support.
The Student Union’s collaboration with the Office of Prevention Services in order to mandate bystander training for club leaders is another necessary step in making the Brandeis campus safer in terms of sexual assault prevention. Active bystanders intervene in potentially unsafe situations, whether they know the people involved or not, to prevent any harm, such as sexual assault, from being inflicted.
Students in club leadership positions are inherently role models and influential to others, and anyone in such a position should also be bystander trained to foster a safer campus climate. Clubs also often host parties, and it is important that club leaders are trained to be bystanders in situations that may involve alcohol. With multiple training sessions offered, scheduling should not be a problem in completing the training.
We commend these increased efforts to improve the issue of sexual assault and how survivors are able to recover on campus. With Brandeis’ disappointing response to sexual assault cases in the past, and the concerning results in previous campus climate surveys, the transparency of the university’s efforts to improve is welcome.
These resources validate survivors’ experiences and the actions all students should take to prevent further cases in the future.