OSVPE Helps Sexual Violence Survivors Find Resources

By Caitlin Burns | April 9, 2021

When the University received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, Arcadia sought to assess, implement, and sustain programming on sexual violence prevention and education, including campus surveying, prevention programming, and capacity building with law enforcement training. 

Since then, the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Education (OSVPE), which was established through the grant, has reimagined how faculty and staff are trained in working with community members who have experienced sexual violence; established the GoodKnights, a peer educator program for students; crafted an online safety plan program for community members who might be living and working in unsafe locations during the pandemic; and started the “You Do You” campaign for survivors to address their experiences however they are comfortable.

“We did a climate survey last spring, and some of the data we got back were pretty unique reasons why students don’t report incidents of sexual or gender based violence,” said Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Alison Berk. “They weren’t reasons that are common in other institutions; they were reasons like they didn’t want others to worry about them or they wanted to handle it on their own. So what we learned was they wanted to be autonomous, which is how the ‘You Do You’ campaign started.”

Through the “You Do You” campaign, community members can address their incident however they want and feel comfortable. Berk said that OSVPE is there to help connect students to what they need and support over a long period of time.

Whether on campus or online, Berk said resources are available to any community member who needs assistance. OSVPE collaborates with local organizations and agencies so students can have more resources, many of them free, if they experience sexual- or gender-based violence. 

“My office also can work with students to identify resources that are geographically closer to them if that makes more sense to them,” said Berk about accessing services and resources, and working with police. 

OSVPE has re-applied for the grant. Berk hopes to use any additional funding to hire a campus advocate to help survivors through the court process after they’ve filed a police report, as well as make resources more accessible.

“We’ve been working with the Office of International Programs and The College of Global Studies to identify a few of the more common languages spoken on campus,” said Berk, which includes French, Korean, Arabic, Spanish, and Mandarin. “So, we’re looking at translating a lot of our materials into those languages, as well as making sure that we have transcripts available for all of our videos.”

April is Sexual Violence Prevention Awareness Month, and Arcadia has a slate of events during the month, including in-person and virtual discussions and activities, and a documentary screening.