We need an Advocacy Center at SU…

The following was written by Meaghan Greeley, a current SU grad student and victim advocate at Vera House:

We need an Advocacy Center at SU and on EVERY college campus because when I was sexually assaulted on campus….
1. I reported it to the counseling center and was never informed of my options for services and reporting. Instead I was told that they weren’t sure how to handle this because they were never trained. At an Advocacy Center I would have been met with specially trained professionals. An advocate would have explained ALL of my options and explained how I could access many services and resources.
2. When I reported it to the counseling center I was TOLD that it was MANDATORY to report the sexual assault to campus security. At an Advocacy Center I would have been told my options and supported in whatever choices I made around whom to tell and when.
3. I met with campus security ALONE and gave my report to 3 officers and 1 supervisor. I asked to have the city’s police called, but was told that calling in an outside agency would only complicate the matter. An Advocacy Center would have assigned an advocate to accompany me and support me through this process. They would have told me my legal rights and advocated for a meeting with the city’s police, if that is what I wanted.
4. When I expressed to my counselor my concern that my attacker was an RA with a key to my room. Instead of advocating with me to Res Life to either be moved for to ask for my attacker’s resignation, I was given a name and number to call for the director of Res Life. I met with that director and 3 of their staff members ALONE. An Advocacy Center would have supported me through this process and accompanied me to that meeting.
5. My counselor never asked what I wanted to do; instead she told me that I will never heal if I continue to “bother the campus administration with my concerns.” This was only 2 weeks after I was attacked. An Advocacy Center would have given me options for healing that would have included a counseling resource. They would not make the assumption that what I needed was therapy. They would also have met me where I was at and provided client-centered trauma informed services.
6. My parents after hearing about my struggle for safety and appropriate services and resources on campus came and met with me and the Campus Administrators. At this meeting I was told that I “should never have gone to his room because it gave him the wrong idea”. I went there to TUTOR him, through the campus supported tutoring program! An Advocacy Center would have provided an advocate to help my family and I understand our rights and options when meeting with campus administrators. An advocate would have accompanied us to that meeting and would have been able to provide education about the myths and realities to the administration and confronted them when they began their victim blaming.
7. In the end I was encouraged to move off campus for the duration of the semester.
8. I was also encouraged to stop talking about it. And that is exactly what I did, UNTIL NOW!

My story did not happen at SU, but it happened on a campus that thought that the best way to serve victims of sexual abuse is to have them access the campus counseling center. I believe that my experience would have been different with an Advocacy Center. My truth is why I will not stay silent and it is why I will continue to advocate for the Advocacy Center at SU.

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