Last week, Northeastern University made a big step towards helping student survivors of sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Response Campaign on campus has been working tirelessly for over a year to create a safe space where all students can go to receive support, resources, and education about sexual assault on campus. The Violence Support, Intervention, and Outreach Network known as ViSION now has an office located in the Social Justice Resource Center at 106 St. Stephens Street. This area will be a safe space for student programming and violence prevention, where students can go to obtain resources for various ViSION resources including NUPD, UHCS, Residential Life, OSCCR, and WeCare. The office will be open from 9-5 on Monday through Friday and staffed by members of ViSION and OPEN, the Office for Prevention and Education. After business hours, the space will be bookable for student groups or anyone looking for a safe space.
The staff at the ViSION office will be mandated reporters, meaning that they must report any incidence of sexual violence to Northeastern University, so confidentiality is not guaranteed. SARC gives the following language recommendations for students who want to access resources but keep their case confidential:
“I am looking for resources for a friend on Title IX reporting options”
“This happened to my friend, how can I best help?”
“_____ happened to my friend. Is this considered sexual assault?”
“What resources are there for a friend who experienced sexual assault?”
“Can you give me some information I can take home to a friend?”
“If I encouraged my friend to report an incident to NUPD, who would see their case after that?”
“What are the benefits of reporting an incident through the school, versus with the Boston Police?”
If students want a guarantee of confidentiality, UHCS counselors will keep any information given during a private meeting confidential unless a danger is posed to the reporting student or someone else.
Sexual assault has plagued thousands of college campuses, Northeastern included. It is estimated that 20-25% of college women will be the victim of sexual violence during their course of study. Given that only 5% of completed or attempted sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement, this number may be a gross underestimate. Men are even less likely to report an instance of sexual assault, so statistics on male sexual violence are practically nonexistent. Strides have been made by dedicated student groups to prevent violence, educate students, and provide resources and support to survivors. While SARC is pleased that Northeastern has made great progress towards making our campus safer, they acknowledge that this is a first step in a long process. They will keep working to make resources more accessible to students and ensure that all survivors will feel supported by the Northeastern community. For updates on the status of the center and to view SARC’s full announcement, please visit their Facebook page.