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The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Grinnell Advocates answer questions

Dear Editors,

A month ago, President Obama created a task force to address sexual assault on college campuses. Here at Grinnell, as sexual assault and dating violence remain urgent problems, we have for the past year had our own task force operating, led by Title IX Coordinator and Vice-President for Strategic Planning Angela Voos. We, Grinnell Advocates, are writing to bring attention to one of the important, yet little understood, elements of any concerted and responsible response to incidents of sexual assault, namely, advocacy for the victim survivors.

***Trigger Warning—This letter contains conversation regarding sexual assault prevention and awareness.***

Question 1: Who are Grinnell Advocates?

We are students. We are peers. We are men and women who care about this work deeply and work to uphold a mission of response to sexual assault and incidents of dating violence to educate the campus and to promote inclusivity in our cause. All members are state-certified advocates for sexual assault response in the state of Iowa. Our domain of responsibility is specifically in response and education. Unlike Residence Life and Student Affairs, we are completely confidential.

Question 2: What do Advocates do?

When serving as on-call advocates for campus response, our goal is to listen to, support and inform victim-survivors of their options and resources. Our unique role is to be sure that they feel safe and heard, attended to and supported without pressure. We do NOT provide therapy, nor do we give advice. We are strictly a resource to provide facts and concrete information to assist victim-survivors seeking our resources.

Question 3: Who can call a campus Advocate?

Any member of the Grinnell campus community can reach out to an Advocate. If you would like to speak to an advocate not affiliated with the college program, this is also available and can be requested upon calling our crisis line.

Question 4: Why do Advocates poster on campus?

This is probably one of the most important questions we have asked ourselves.  We consistently reflect on our practices and compare our own program to those on other campuses as we review and revise our approaches and seek to be transparent about our role here at Grinnell.  Our campus in general needs to become more educated on issues of sexual assault.  Grinnell Advocates does not aim to trigger victim-survivors, but we acknowledge that posters, bathroom fliers, etc., can be triggering.  The balance between triggering and educating is a fine line. We encourage any individual feeling triggered to seek resources on and off campus for assistance with the source of being triggered.

Question 5: What is next for Advocates?

“Got Consent” Poster Campaign: Our first posters will show up before spring break. If you have any comments, concerns or suggestions, please email [advocates].

New Hotline Phone: We have recently updated our phone response program. As of March 8, 2014, we will be operating a 24/7 talk and text crisis line: 641-260-1615.  Calling this number will directly connect you to a confidential Advocate.

Sexual Assault Awareness Week (April 15-April 18): Will be co-led with Real Men, FAC and with the cooperation and support of other campus groups.

Question 6: How can you get involved?

If you are interested in becoming a certified Advocate please email [advocates] and we will add you to our recruitment mailing list. If you would like to get involved with some of our upcoming events for Sexual Assault Awareness Week and/or postering, we would love your help—email us!

Thank you,

Grinnell Advocates


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