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Sexual assault center requires private space

Survivors put at risk by potential move

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 03:09

This week, after being dismissed by the Office of Student Experience and the Office of the Dean of Students, students from the UT Feminist Alliance started a petition to bring to the attention of Student Government the moving of the Office of Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Program to a new and public location.

This office absolutely should not be moved because of the harmful effects on the survivors who go into SAEPP.

Although not a supporting claim, this was poorly handled by the administrators such as Michele Martinez, the dean of students, and Kaye Patten-Wallace, the vice president for student experience.

Students who use the services of this office are looking for a private location to seek counseling in light of their victimization. They are less likely to come forward for help in such a public location as the Trimble Lounge where events including parties and fairs are held regularly.

It is the case that people who go into this office, particularly with the new central and public location, could be assumed victims. Going to a counseling center for rape survivors is not the same as going to some other organization’s office. People may assume and inquire about a person’s private experience, and a stigma could be attached to them. Being a survivor is not a club; it’s a private, traumatic experience.

The Office of Student Experience might argue that this office needs to be in a more central and public location because of the services it provides to students and its mission of awareness. While it’s the case that the SAEPP needs to be present, this has not yet been an issue. 

It’s clear that this is not the true concern of the Office of Student Experience because the office has been moved multiple times in the last few years, including to its current location. The SAEPP has had no issue making itself known and the rights of victims are in serious danger of being violated.

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