After much heated debate involving the
University Administration and student groups, the University
recently decided to keep the Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center’s crisis line operating at SAPAC. Initial
plans called for the crisis line to move to SAFEHouse, with SAPAC
relocating to the Michigan Union to focus solely on sexual assault
advocacy and prevention. Instead, the crisis line will remain at
SAPAC, and the student volunteers who normally answer the phones
will be replaced by full-time paid staff. The dedication and
selflessness of the student volunteers who have put in countless
hours helping victims of sexual assault deserve recognition and
applause. However, using full-time staff is a positive change that
will ensure that victims of sexual assault can deal one-on-one with
trained professionals at any time of the day and will not have to
worry about calling a pager or waiting for a callback. SAPAC is a
vital program, and the fact that the University is providing
increased funding by hiring staff members at a time of budget
shortfalls shows just how seriously the Administration takes sexual
assault.

Janna Hutz

It’s important to note that these beneficial changes would
not have come about had it not been for significant student input.
The student group Our Voices Count spoke out vehemently against the
initial proposed changes, and the current changes were decided on
only after substantial lobbying and negotiating with the
Administration. Our Voices Count did not get everything they wanted
— they are unhappy that the University is transferring SAPAC
counselors to Counseling and Psychological Services, saying that
dividing up services only hurts their effectiveness. However, under
the new agreement, services are limited to only two groups, both
within the University. Both the students who made sure SAPAC
remained a valuable resource as well as the Administration, which
listened to student input, deserve applause. It is particularly
commendable that the director of SAPAC sent an e-mail to all
students regarding the changes, keeping dispersed students informed
over the summer.

SAPAC will now focus more heavily on sexual assault education
and prevention. These are both important, because it is through
them that the number of incidents of sexual assault are reduced,
making the crisis line less of a necessity. Outreach services,
which are just as important as actual counseling, will now be
emphasized. However, despite increased education and prevention
work, sexual assault will remain an unfortunate reality; the
University decision to keep the crisis line and staff it with
trained professionals is surely a positive one.

Now, it is important that SAPAC makes good on its promise to
increase outreach. The services they offer are invaluable, and it
is important that the student body is aware of what they have to
provide. The e-mail that SAPAC director Kelly Cichy sent to
students lists the location and contact information for the
organization, in addition to offering workshops to interested
student groups. This outreach is necessary to ensure that students
are aware of and have access to such a valuable resource. Through
increased outreach and education, the indispensable services offer
by SAPAC will only get better.

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