Oregon State Builds Advocacy Center for Assault Victims

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University (OSU) recently opened the Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center to offer support to students who experience sexual violence. The center debuted on Oct. 8 in Corvallis and provides confidential and easily accessible services.

The center’s location inside the Student Health Services Building offers students privacy and confidentiality, as it’s a place many already visit for a variety of other medical needs. It also places them in close proximity of trained sexual assault nurses if needed. There are three such nurses on the Student Health Services staff who work closely with community medical providers.

“The idea is that most of the Student Health Services building is already confidential,” said Rob Reff, director of the Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention Center and part of the team that oversees the center, in a statement. “You can be going to [the Student Health Services building] for all sorts of reasons.”

OSU already offered a wide variety of resources for students who experienced sexual violence, but the campus didn’t have a central location where students could go to get all their needs met. The advocacy center also gives faculty and staff members a specific location to refer students who have disclosed a past assault.

“It is critical that we provide a single, central resource that is networked to the various offices and support functions,” said Susie Brubaker-Cole, OSU vice provost for Student Affairs, in a statement. “This will help faculty and staff make referrals and will help survivors feel supported in choosing what resources they need in the short or long term.”

The advocacy center has a full-time advocate who will provide administrative and support services with help from the Sexual Assault Support Services office within the Counseling and Psychological Services department. Reff said in a statement that providing an advocate for survivors is crucial because advocates work solely in the interest of the students, helping connect them with necessary resources such as counseling, housing, law enforcement, medical services or simply someone who will listen.

While the center is primarily for students, OSU faculty and staff survivors can receive support, stabilization and referrals from the OSU Advocacy Center as well. A resource room will also be open to anyone on campus, providing books, movies, articles and other media with information about sexual violence.

Earlier this month, OSU hired Michelle Bangen as the new assistant director for violence prevention. She previously worked at Ohio State University, where she led a nationally recognized bystander intervention program called Buckeyes Got Your Back. Her first approach at OSU will be to work with the fraternity community on implementing a version of the Ohio State bystander intervention program at OSU.