The need for on-campus sexual violence resources is here, but it’s no longer being met.
Since Feb. 12, the Sexual Civility and Empowerment office has been under an external review and has been relocated indefinitely. Since the beginning of March, survivors have been unable to get the resources and support that they so greatly need and deserve. The university has not notified its students of what services are and are not available to them until now. The statement, which was released through The Lantern on Tuesday, is vague, superficial and grossly inadequate. Consequently, this statement comes as I, and many of my fellow students, have started organizing an effort to shed light on this issue as of one week ago.
Although there were references to alternative resources both on campus and externally, this does not negate the need for on-campus, student-centered resources that are designed specifically to navigate the university system and meet the needs of students. We must hold our university to a degree of accountability when it comes to preventing sexual violence, providing resources for those who have experienced sexual violence, and fostering a safe and productive learning environment for its students. We will continue to demand that the university upholds its promise to do so.
SCE is a localized, personalized and student-centered resource that helps students who have experienced sexual violence navigate through their experience in whatever way they see fit. Support coordinators are kind and thoughtful, guiding survivors and empowering them every step along the way of their experience.
Students who are enrolled in help services after experiencing sexual violence and assault have been unwillingly abandoned and told they can no longer meet with their support coordinator, with little to no explanation as to why. Students who have recently experienced sexual violence, who call the office to get resources, who would once get to speak to myself or another student employee, are now being directed to a voicemail.
I have had the privilege of working for this office since the beginning of the academic year; I have seen the amazing work they do. I have received heartbreaking phone calls from students who have experienced something traumatic and are desperately seeking help. I have referred friends to the office and have seen them get the help they sought after in a way that was both efficient and tailored to their personal needs. I know that the reason the office is not currently operational is not because it is no longer needed, or that sexual violence is no longer being perpetrated on this campus.
Statistically 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will experience some form of sexual violence at one point during their undergraduate studies. With this issue being so prevalent and impacting a large portion of Ohio State’s student body, there needs to be an allocation of resources tailored specifically to survivors.
The need is still there, now it is not being met.
When holistic sexual violence resources are not readily and easily available to students, the effects can be devastating. For those who choose to do so, it can make reporting their experience and pursuing a case more difficult and impersonal. It can invalidate survivors and make them feel as if their experience is not important enough to garner help or support from their institution.
Ultimately, by not having this office open and these resources available, regardless of the nature of this review, students are being hurt and punished and that is simply unacceptable.
Second-Year Political Science Student
Sexual Civility and Empowerment Student Employee
Advocates for Women of the World (AWOW) Sexual Assault Awareness Committee Leader