Anushka Kapoor '13, SAPA President

 

We’ve all seen the signs around campus advertising for “Take Back the Night” and “SAPA Training”, but do we know what any of these organizations actually are or what they do? Her Campus Emory spoke with senior Anushka Kapoor, the president of SAPA, to see what these student groups are aiming to do around campus.

Her Campus Emory (HCE): What is SAPA?

Anushka Kapoor (AK): Sexual Assault Peer Advocates is an organization that trains people on what to say, what not to say, and how to help sexual assault survivors. We believe that the initial responses that a survivor receives after disclosing an assault can significantly harm or facilitate his or her recovery. We try to train as many students as possible so that they can respond to survivors appropriately and guide them to the resources that survivors have at Emory and in the local Atlanta community.

HCE: Why is it important to have an organization like SAPA at Emory?

AK: National statistics tell us that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted by the end of their college careers. SAPA advocates provide sexual assault survivors with a platform to talk about their experience, so that survivors are aware of their options after an assault. While SAPA trainings focus mainly on how to talk to survivors, they also work towards eliminating rape-culture and victim blaming at Emory. In a nutshell, SAPA strengthens the response system for sexual assault survivors at Emory, and in doing so, creates a more survivor supportive campus.

HCE: What other resources does Emory provide for students who have survived sexual assault? How can readers find these resources?

AK: Survivors have access to the following resources at Emory:

  • Individual consultations and advocacy
  • Reporting to legal authorities and/or the Office of Student Conduct
  • Housing relocation
  • Academic advocacy  
  • Medical care (including a rape kit) is available at the Emory University Hospital. However, we encourage survivors to go to the Dekalb Rape Crisis Center since they have better equipment to perform the procedure.
  • Counseling services

Lauren Bernstein is the Coordinator of Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention, Education & Response at Emory University. She advocates on behalf of survivors for housing relocation, medical referrals/counseling services, academic withdrawals and legal referrals. Survivors can contact her in case they would like to pursue any of those options.  

Readers can find these resources using the Office of Health Promotion’s website. A SAPA advocate training session would also cover the same. Students can talk to any of the Campus Life Professionals, RAs, SAs and SAPA Advocates to find out more information about the resources for sexual assault survivors.

HCE: How do survivors know where to find advocates?

AK: Students can find a SAPA Advocates by:

  1. SAPA Stickers (these are similar to Safe Space stickers)
  2. SAPA T-shirts

Since we are a very new organization, a significant amount of our awareness happens through word of mouth. However, we have already started strong initiatives so that identifying SAPA advocates will be easier for survivors.

We are currently developing a website which would provide an updated list of advocates every month. We try and ensure that we train at least one SAPA Advocate in each student group at Emory, so that we have a strong presence on campus. Our advocates are starting the “I am SAPA Trained for You” campaign on November 9th. For this campaign, SAPA will post advocate bios all around campus so that it is easier for survivors to identify SAPA Advocates.

HCE: How do students get involved, either with SAPA or other sexual assault awareness/prevention groups on campus?

AK: The best way to get involved with SAPA is to sign up for a SAPA Advocate training [session]. Our next training session is on November 15th at the DUC. Here’s the sign up link to register for the training.

We will also make sign ups for training sessions available on our website, once it is complete.

The Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) is another Emory student-based organization that aims to prevent sexual assault by raising awareness about the same. To get more involved with ASAP, students can attend the General Body Meetings on Mondays at 6:30 PM in DUC 362.

HCE: What is your goal for the rest of the school year (i.e. more advocates, more awareness programs, fundraisers, etc)?

AK: We have a lot of goals for this year!

Our priority is to train as many students as possible as SAPA Advocates. We have two open training sessions in November. Aside from that, we are approaching the following student groups, since they have significant leadership roles on campus:

  1. College Council
  2. BBA Council
  3. Student Government Association
  4. RHD
  5. Varsity & Intramural Sports Teams
  6. Orientation leaders

We obviously need to fundraise, and all the proceeds from our fundraising events will go towards marketing SAPA and pay for whatever minimal expenses we have to conduct SAPA training sessions.  Our next fundraiser is on November 15th, and is going to happen at Willy’s (2074 North Decatur Road). For more information, please refer to the following link.

We are significantly increasing our marketing, so that it becomes easier to identify SAPA Advocates for survivors on Emory’s campus. As I mentioned earlier, we are setting up a website, starting the “I am SAPA trained for You” campaign and even launching a promotional video to get our name out there.

We are working with the Office of Health promotion to organize a conference on April 12th next year that would explore the intersectional ties between sexual assault, racism, sexism, classism etc. Hopefully, we will get some great speakers for the event!

HCE: Do you have a message you'd like to give to the Emory community?

AK: We would like to tell the Emory Community that SAPA has a place for everyone. Our primary aim is to respond to survivors, but to create a truly survivor supportive campus it is necessary that all of us as Emory students come together and create a campus culture that doesn’t tolerate sexual violence. Survivors have been through a terrible experience, for which they need and deserve support.

Sexual assault and violence affect men and women everywhere. While Emory can be a safe and close-knit community, we unfortunately also experience the perpetration of these types of violence, as do college campuses across the country. There are countless ways for you to get involved on campus to raise awareness, stop violence, and support survivors. If you would like to get involved in the Emory survivor support system, attend the training session on Thursday, November 15th to learn what to say, what resources are available, and how to support survivors of sexual violence on our campus. On Monday, November 12th, ASAP (Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention) will be hosting a “Take Back the Night” speak out to support survivors of sexual violence and to raise awareness, to share anonymous stories of sexual assault, and to show solidarity for men and women everywhere who have not yet been able to speak out or seek help.