Numerous members of the Washburn community are pushing for a trained, full-time staff member to assume the role of victim’s advocate on campus.
This staff member would be a confidential source available to students that have experienced sexual violence, harassment or rape. This advocate would also be a mediator for students that aren’t ready to report an incident to authorities. As of now, if a student opens up to a faculty member or counselor about an incident, they are always required to report not only the incident, but the student’s name.
Sharon Sullivan, associate professor of theatre, says that many members of Washburn’s faculty would love to have a mediator between the student and further counseling.
“I always worry when a student comes to me and tells me what they’re going through,” Sulllivan said. “Any faculty member is required to report that student’s name. That’s betrayal.”
Sullivan believes that a victim’s advocate will help students regain power over their own lives.
Although she hopes that a student will end up reporting a victimizing incident, she believes that opening up is a choice to be made by the student.
Kelly Erby, assistant professor of history, agrees that the university would benefit from a victim’s advocate.
“Having a victim’s advocate will enhance Washburn’s responsibility under the equal opportunity policy,” said Erby. “We are still getting feedback from people to figure out what they specifically want in a victim’s advocate.”
On Nov. 11, a special Gender Brown Bag event will focus on a campus discussion about the need for a full-time victim’s advocate.
Both Erby and Sullivan are hopeful for the future of Washburn in light of a potential victim’s advocate.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in order to make sure everyone is protected,” Sullivan said.
Erby strongly urges for as many students as possible attend the Gender Brown Bag event in order for the administration to see the idea’s merit. The event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Vogel Room.