The Sexual Assault Support Network, which aims to raise sexual awareness on the River Campus, has set into motion several improvements to various sexual assault prevention programs and service. These changes will be intact for students when they arrive back to UR next fall.

The Sexual Assault Support Network is also involved in educating students about the connection between unwanted sexual activity and alcohol use.

The network is co-chaired by University Health Service Health Educator Melissa Kelley and University Intercessor and Coordinator of Disability Resources Kathy Sweetland. Kelley and Sweetland founded the support network with the help of UR graduate student Caitlin Powalski this spring semester. The Sexual Assault Support Network has expanded to include members from Greek Life, the Student Association, Residential Life, Security, University Counseling Center (UCC) and the Rape Crisis Service of Planned Parenthood.

Members of this support network feel that it is important for students to be aware of the services and programs available to them on campus.

‘[Students] often take the “it won’t or can’t happen to me’ approach,” Kelley said. ‘Our hope is to have students have an increased awareness to know how to act and respond [to] a sexual assault that has taken place.”

The largest change that is taking place next fall is that the current sexual assault hot line number will be transferred over to the Rape Crisis Service of Monroe County. This change will be beneficial to students because they will gain access to all of the services that the Rape Crisis Services provides, and it will be free of cost. Included in the Rape Crisis Services are 24-hour access to a sexual assault counselor, advocacy and counseling services.

UR’s relationship with the Rape Crisis Service of Monroe County is an essential part of UR’s sexual assault prevention programs.

‘We anticipate that our relationship with the Rape Crisis Service of Monroe County will enhance the UR’s ability to respond to sexual assault incidents,” Sweetland said.
Other changes that will take place will be additional programming to the summer RA training, expanding and updating UR’s sexual assault Web site, creating new educational programs and lastly, organizing a campus awareness program that will appear next fall.

This program will include a panel discussion and an interactive program, which will be in addition to the existing the red light, green light program that takes place during freshmen orientation.

One aspect that is important to the faculty members in the Sexual Assault Support Network is getting feedback from students and student groups.

‘We are encouraged by the input from students … that we are on the right track,” Sweetland said.

The overall goal for these changes is to make students comfortable to discuss these difficult topics.

‘It’s often a taboo topic,” Kelley said. ‘The more that we talk about, the better we may be able to help someone in need … I am hoping that we can make sexual assault a more “talked about’ topic so that the students who have been affected can get the help they need.”

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