Introducing Rani Neutill: Brandeis' Sexual Assault Counselor

With sexual assault such a hot button topic on college campuses throughout the country at the moment, it is very exciting news that Brandeis has hired a temporary Sexual Assault counselor to fill the position until Sheila returns to campus. Rani Neutill, a recent part-time hire for the English department. She is teaching a class entitled, “Sex and Cinema.” She has taken an interim position as sexual assault counselor and sexual assault prevention educator. After receiving her PhD in Ethnic Studies, a more political based subject than English, from Berkley, Rani has worked at multiple institutions in multiple fields.

Her Campus was fortunate to get the chance to sit down and talk with Rani to learn more about her background as well as what she is looking forward to while in this position at Brandeis.

Her Campus: How long have you been at Brandeis?

Rani Neutill: Since August.

HC: When were you hired?

RN: A week before class. The person teaching the class couldn’t so they asked people at Harvard and my name came up and they contacted me.

HC: Where have worked before this?

RN: A lot of places. I worked at Vassar before I received my PhD, then I went to Harvard for two years then I got a post-doc at Yale, then I got a post-doc at Hopkins, then I went back to Harvard and now I am here.

HC: What was your focus when you were at those different schools?

RN: I taught ethnic studies, post-colonial studies and women’s and gender studies. When I was at Vassar I was in the English department. At Yale I was in the American Studies department. At Harvard I was in the Women’s and Gender studies department and History and Literature. In Hopkins I was in the English department.

HC: Was women’s and Gender studies always a prime focus?

RN: Yes, I always felt more comfortable in a WGS department and American Studies. The Yale American Studies department is fantastic.

HC: Were you interested in being a sexual assault counselor before arriving or did it spin off of your interest in Women’s and Gender Studies?

RN: Yes. I am a Boston area Rape Crisis (BARCC) area volunteer.

HC: What is BARCC?

RN: It is the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. It is a non-profit organization that does a number of things: we have a hotline, a medical advocacy program which is basically going to the ER with someone who wants to go, the medical advocate has 45 minutes to get to there. What I do is called community awareness and prevention services. We go to campuses and communities and do bystander trainings, awareness trainings, responding to disclosures, consent workshops as well.  We also go to youth groups and community centers—basically a variety of venues. BARCC also has a legal advocacy department, and case management, for example if someone’s safety is compromised but they have nowhere else to go they have a case worker for them that can help with housing.  You can look at their website for more details: http://www.barcc.org.

HC: Did you know the sexual assault counselor position was open or was that recent?

RN: No, that was completely recent. What happened was Sheryl Souza contacted one of my supervisors at BARC to see if she wanted to fill the position because she had applied for the position. My peer supervisor knew I was only working part time and I was here so she gave her my name and recommended me. It was through a different circuit, BARC.

HC: How Long will you be in this position?

RN: Until December 15th supposedly. A very short time.

HC: Are you excited about the prospect about doing this for a few months?

RN: Yes, it is overwhelming but I think it is very important and it will be an amazing learning experience for me. I do community work with BARC but this is campus work. It is different but the same. We do the same things, I have been working with students for 16 years.

HC: How can students on campus utilize the services you will be offering.

RN: I will have office hours, Monday 3-5, Tuesday 9:35 to noon, Wed 4-5 and Thursday 9:35-noon. People can email me, I’m here. The other thing is I am going to start doing more and more workshops. I can work with DCL to get stuff done.  I am a confidential resource.

In addition to Rani Neutill, there are multiple services on our campus for students as well as community resources. These are just a few of them. See the full list and more information here (http://www.brandeis.edu/preventionservices/docs/survivors-guide.pdf).

Confidential Peer Resources: 6Talk, QRC, SSIS, STAR

Confidential University Resources: Brandeis Confidential Complaint Hotline, Brandeis Health Center, Interfaith Chaplaincy

Confidential Community Resources: Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Hotline, REACH-Beyond Domestic Violence, Best Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery