Parton, SGA Establish Support Group for Survivors

Parton Expands Survivor Support

By KENZO OKAZAKI

The counseling department at the Parton Center for Health and Wellness has formed a support group for students who are survivors of sexual violence. 

The group will meet every Thursday beginning on Oct. 25. All of the services provided by this group will be free and confidential.

The support group formed as a result of efforts from both the Student Government Association (SGA) and Parton. Cece Alter ’19, the chair of the SGA Sexual and Relationship Respect Committee, told The Campus that the committee discussed the idea last year. This semester, Parton intern Alexa Szotka reached out to make the support group possible.

“I met with Alexa and we talked about what I thought would be valuable in the support group and ideas the committee has,” Alter said.

Recent protests have emphasized many students’ opinion that the college does not provide adequate support to survivors or punish abusers appropriately. Most recently, signs at the demonstration outside of Proctor on Oct. 4 read: “@midd stop protecting abusers” and “@midd support survivors” in the wake of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alter said that these demonstrations reveal that the college needs to do more to support survivors.

In addition to the medical and psychological support for survivors of sexual violence currently available at Parton, the new support group is another option that may appeal to some students.”

— Dr. Mark Peluso

“The school has a ton of resources and using those to support those who need it is really important,” she said.

Dr. Mark Peluso, director of health services at Parton, also commented on the benefit of creating an additional space to facilitate healing for survivors.

“In addition to the medical and psychological support for survivors of sexual violence currently available at Parton, the new support group is another option that may appeal to some students,” Peluso said.

Szotka, who will facilitate the new group, emphasized the importance of offering group-based support. 

“Support groups offer a means for students to share their experience, struggles, strength and hope with each other in a supportive and safe environment with counselors present to help facilitate healing,” Szotka said.

Alter also recognized that the existing resources the college offers in this area, such as Middsafe and counseling, are almost exclusively individual in nature.

The experience of being a survivor on this campus can be really hard and lonely sometimes, so bringing people together can be helpful.”

— Cece Alter ’19

“The experience of being a survivor on this campus can be really hard and lonely sometimes, so bringing people together can be helpful,” she said.

Alter said that nobody can know what is best for all survivors on campus, and that as a result, the group doesn’t need to be sterilized and clinical. She envisions it as a more creative space for healing that can go far beyond sitting in a circle.

“If people are interested in joining but are not sure what it will look like, they should know that it can look like what they need it to,” Alter said.

Depending on the interest in the group this semester, Parton plans on offering additional support groups next semester as well. More information including time and location can be found by calling Middlebury College Counseling at (802)-443-5141.

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