An important resource for University students, faculty and staff has moved closer to the people it serves.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, which provides support services to survivors of sexual assault and educates members of the University community on sexual violence, moved last month to the Michigan Union from its previous location on North University Avenue between Thayer and South State streets.

SAPAC director Holly Rider-Milkovich said the new location puts it closer to its most important campus partners, including Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office of the Dean of Students, both located in the Union.

Rider-Milkovich said the North University location had the benefit of discreetness, but the Union location is more convenient for inter-departmental work and better suits the organization’s strategic vision and objectives.

She noted that the Union’s position as a cornerstone of student life at the University allows SAPAC to educate as broad an audience as possible by making itself more prominent on campus and may allow it to reach students who may not have known the service existed until now.

Rider-Milkovich said the proximity to the rented offices of student organizations also provides a beneficial component in allowing students coming and going to those organizations to see SAPAC, and it also serves to forge further strategic partnerships between SAPAC and other campus groups.

While the new space is somewhat smaller than the old location, Rider-Milkovich said it is designed to meet the needs of SAPAC’s clients. The new location and its renovation was designed with the assistance of focus groups and blueprints designed by current and former SAPAC students and volunteers.

“From the placement of walls, to the moving of where walls would have been, right down to the color we ended up painting the walls, this is very much a student-led, student-inspired location,” Rider-Milkovich said.

Another component to the Union location is increased privacy for confidential visits. Unlike the previous location, there is now an open area for volunteers and full-time staff to convene during the week, but also a more enclosed area for visits by students seeking personal resources and services.

When SAPAC celebrated its 25th anniversary last year , Rider-Milkovich said current students and staff members were surprised by the irony of the move, as SAPAC was founded in the Union in 1986.

“We told them we were moving to the Union, and they said, ‘back to where it all started,’” she said.

“One thing, though, hasn’t changed at all,” Rider-Milkovich added. “We continue to try every day to build awareness that there are resources available on this campus for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence, and we hope that this move makes those resources even more accessible.”

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