by The Cowl Editor on February 17, 2017
by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
Assistant News Editor
In effort to create greater advocacy for victims of sexual assault, Providence College has partnered with Day One: The Sexual Assault & Trauma Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence, as well as to offer support to those who have been affected by it.
The partnership is a memorandum of agreement, and links Courtney Miner, an advocacy coordinator at the agency, to the College as the Victim Advocacy, Support & Education (V.A.S.E) coordinator. “The relationship we’ve built with Day One is authentic and trustworthy and is one that is helping the College,” said Dr. James Campbell, Title IX coordinator and assistant vice president for student development.
According to Dr. Campbell, PC has had connections with the agency for a long time, and has referred students to use their statewide services. Some services Day One offers include: a 24-hour Helpline and legal advocacy, law enforcement advocacy programs, individual and group counseling, and prevention education workshops.
Miner’s role as the V.A.S.E. coordinator began after the College reached out to Day One to get their professional opinion on what PC could do better with their response to sexual assault on campus. Her new role officially began this past November.
“Since the first time they approached me, something that I’ve seen at PC that I do not necessarily see on other campuses is a real devotion to making sure they are doing the best they can to prevent sexual assault,” said Miner. “They are more than willing to take advice from Day One, and I am very excited by the open communication between us and PC.”
Dr. Campbell explained that with partnering with Day One, the College can benefit from their resources and expertise. “We’ve been able to fine tune our procedures,” he said. “We’ve made strong connections with their Law Enforcement Advocates which makes it easier when there is a sexual assault for students to file complaints to the police.”
Miner explained that the Law Enforcement Advocates is something that makes her most proud of being part of an agency like Day One. “According to Day One’s website, Law Enforcement Advocates are Advocates employed by Day One and other victim service agencies in the state, but are physically based out of local police departments.” The advocates have access to the Police Department’s reporting system and follow-up with every sexual assault (or domestic violence) victim that has reported to the police.
Dr. Campbell explained a huge benefit to Law Enforcement Advocates is that they help to minimize the number of times victims have to tell their stories. “If someone who is interviewing a victim is not trained, the interview process can be traumatic,” he said.
As for her role as the V.A.S.E. coordinator, Miner explained she can go with victims to any hearings, meet with them on or off campus, and is willing to speak with them at any time. “My main purpose is to make sure victims are informed so they can make informed decisions,” she said. “I’m not making decisions for them, but helping them make informed decisions during the process and support them through that.”
According to an article published by The Cowl in December 2015, Student Affairs held a community gathering to explain the College’s role in dealing with matters of sexual assault, and presented results from the previous spring’s Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Campus Climate Survey. The survey was meant to cover the “scope and nature of violence and experiences of sexual assault on campus.”
Dr. Campbell explained that the survey held the most comprehensive data regarding sexual assault at Providence College, but it is not entirely accurate as not everyone took the survey.
Presented at last year’s community gathering, the survey had a 28 percent response rate and found that “21 percent of those surveyed experienced at least one form of unwanted sexual conduct since the onset of the 2014-2015 school year.” “Unwanted sexual conduct” can include oral sex, sex, attempted oral sex, attempted sex, and unwanted fondling.
Dr. Campbell explained that a follow-up town hall like meeting is likely to be held this April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Both Dr. Campbell and Miner explained that they would like to see more bystander training programs, violence prevention talks, and student advocacy on campus.
“The biggest task now is getting the word out there,” said Miner. She explained the prevalence of in person outreach and how she is glad she has gotten to meet with student groups, such as Residence Life, Student Congress, and Women Will. “When students call the V.A.S.E number, I want them to know they are not just calling a number, but calling a person you know.”
“Courtney has been great,” said Dr. Campbell. “She’s very receptive and always available to meet with student groups to discuss her role.” He also stated that he has met with her and other member of Day One on collaborative measures at least once a month.
Dr. Campbell mentioned that he recognizes that it is easy to assume what is or is not happening on campus in regards to sexual assault. “Most of our process is confidential, so from the outside our polices may not make sense, but that is because a lot of work is being done behind the scenes,” he said. “Trust and credibility helps people feel more confident that things are being handled,”
He went on to explain how easily trust is shattered after a sexual assault, and therefore it is beneficial working with a V.A.S.E. coordinator with credibility, as it gives greater confidence to victims. “There’s a huge benefit in working with Courtney because increased confidence that people have in the process,” he said.
“I am very excited to start this and be a part of the community,” said Miner. “I am so impressed with how kind and supportive the staff and students have been. Even of its just a question or comment, I definitely encourage students to reach to me, because that’s what I’m here for.”
Miner can be contacted at (401) 280-0564. Day One’s 24 Hour Confidentail Helpline is always available to students at 1 (800) 494-8100.