Student Supporters Needed!

By Guest Contributor

The Sexual Assault Oversight Committee (SAOC) has been dedicated to the development and implementation of an advocacy program, and we are so excited to finally set this much-needed project into motion. The advocates will consist of a diverse group of students, faculty and staff, with the desired effect that any survivor of sexual assault, interpersonal violence or stalking, as well as anyone who wishes to support a friend dealing with these issues, will have a confidential and specially-trained resource to provide information and support. Students who are selected as advocates will receive comprehensive training around these issues from campus and community professionals, including WomenSafe and RU12.

Advocates will be available through a student-staffed hotline, or through direct contact to any of the student, faculty or staff advocates. The Advocacy Project will officially launch in Fall 2013. Student applications can be found at go/advocate and are due on Monday, March 18.

The impact that this resource could have on the Middlebury campus cannot be overstated. An SAOC survey conducted several years back showed that survivors of sexual assault are most likely to seek help from peers or a known faculty or staff member. Students may have questions about many areas related to sexual assault: emergency needs, medical and emotional care, filing a complaint on campus or with the police, academic accommodations and seeking supportive resources.

Empowering students with these tools and information can be vital in allowing them to make their own decisions and to support their peers effectively, whether that means providing survivors with facts about the judicial process, accompanying them to a SANE examination or just being a friend who is willing to listen. Joe Biden recently commented on the extremely powerful work of those who attempt to eradicate sexual and domestic violence, telling them “you will never know the profoundly positive impact you have had.”

Students who courageously join this project to provide the support survivors often need will no doubt create this meaningful change in both individuals and in the greater Middlebury community.

EMILY PEDOWITZ ’13 is from Briarcliff, N.Y.