Frequently asked question regarding the Survivor Advocacy Program. Updated October 21st, 2015.
Survivor Advocacy Program to move under Division of Student Affairs
From staff reports
As part of a comprehensive plan designed to increase support services for survivors of sexual assault, stalking and dating and relationship violence, the Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program will soon be part of the Division of Student Affairs.
The move comes after months of careful assessment and thoughtful consideration for the best placement for the program, which was launched in 2010 through grant funding secured by the Women’s Center. OHIO assumed financial support of the program in October 2015 when the grant expired. Shortly after, the program’s coordinator left Ohio University for another opportunity. At that time, leaders within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Executive Vice President and Provost’s office and the Division of Student Affairs began discussing the best model for services and the most beneficial home for the program.
“Staff in the Division of Student Affairs are crisis experts and advocates for our students,” said Jenny Hall-Jones, interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “It makes sense that the Survivor Advocacy Program be in our division because handling crisis, connecting people with resources and student advocacy is part of our core mission.”
The move will mean a few changes:
Students who seek advocacy services can still expect confidential, caring support services in the same location: Lindley Hall. The space was renovated in the past year specifically to house the Survivor Advocacy Program.
“We made sure the renovations to Lindley Hall included a private, welcoming space for survivors to seek support,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit. “We want to continue to utilize that area as we move forward with these changes.”
At this time, it is expected that the two full-time positions will be posted this spring, and the program will complete its move to Student Affairs in time for the opening of fall semester 2016.
It is also important to note that Counseling and Psychological Services and Campus Care will continue to remain fully equipped to provide survivors with an outlet for confidential, privileged communication and support as this program transition advances in the coming months.
Privilege and Confidentiality
Much conversation has taken place about the role of confidentiality in the survivor advocacy process. In compliance with federal Title IX guidelines, Ohio University exempts employees of the SAP from the requirement to report sexual misconduct, including sexual assault and relationship violence, from the university process outlined in Policy 03.004.
Under the new program model SAP employees, as licensed professionals, will also have the protection of privileged communication with clients. This privilege allows those two positions to learn of instances of sexual assault without being mandated to report it to law enforcement, except in certain situations required by Ohio law, such as when there is a report of child abuse, elder abuse or information about threats of imminent harm to self or others.
November 17th 2015
Updated October 21st, 2015
No. Ohio University is committed to this program. The University has taken short term measures to address what have been identified as immediate needs. The next steps are focused on strengthening and fortifying the program and the services it provides to clients.
In order for there to be confidentiality in the delivery of survivor advocacy services, we are searching for a licensed, credential individual to serve as a temporary program coordinator during this transition period.
Are there confidential resources on campus anymore?
Confidential resources exist on campus through Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and Campus Care.
It is important to know there is no wait at CPS for someone in crisis and there is no cost to someone in crisis to use CPS (ie. initial intakes and emergencies after-hours have no charges). CPS has no additional costs to first-year students as all services are included in The OHIO guarantee. Sophomores, juniors and seniors who have paid the wellbeing fee can access CPS for on-going services.
If someone calls CPS during normal business hours, a receptionist will answer the phone and encourage them to come to walk-in hours. After hours, the phone is answered by a licensed therapist.
Is the University still in compliance with Title IX requirements?
Yes. The U.S. Department of Education’s written guidance about Title IX compliance allows for the designation of confidential resources for survivors. Ohio University has maintained access to confidential resources through this transition with counselors and staff at the Counseling and Psychological Services and Campus Care. Any survivor who contacts SAP by telephone or website will see referral information to CPS and a 24//7 Crisis Intervention Service (740-593-1616) where the survivor will speak to a licensed and trained counselor.
In addition, it is important to note that a student who reports sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, Ohio University’s Title IX Office, has the right to request confidentiality. Ohio University will make every effort to honor a complainant’s request for confidentiality. In circumstances where there is risk of further violence against the complainant, or behavior that puts the larger campus community at risk, it may not be possible for the Title IX office to grant confidentiality. It should be noted that honoring the request for confidentiality may limit ability of Ohio University to respond fully to the incident, including pursuing disciplinary action against the respondent. This is because the respondent must be informed of the details of the alleged violation and must be given an opportunity to respond in an adjudicative process prior to disciplinary action.
Complainants who pursue action through the university adjudicative process will receive protection from retaliation, may request a no-contact directive, and will be offered appropriate academic and housing accommodation.
Was there a lapse in confidential resources between the program coordinator's departure and the Monday, Oct. 19 announcement of transition plans for OUSAP?
No. The OUSAP hotline was set to automatically refer people to the Counseling and Psychological Services Crisis Intervention Service (740-593-1616) over the weekend between Friday (the program coordinator's last day) and Monday (the day of the announcement). With this referral in place, there was no lapse in confidential resources available to students.
Shari Clarke, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion, shared this open letter with the University community on October 23, 2015.
The following message was sent to the Ohio University community on October 19, 2015.