CSU requires rape victim advocate

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Dylan Saake, Chico State’s Title IX coordinator and director of labor and relations and compliance, said Chico State has already established its own independent sexual assault advocate. Photo credit: Madison Holmes

The Chancellor’s office announced that it will support the state-wide Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act which requires all CSU’s to have an independent sexual assault advocate.

The CSU system proactively adopted the state-wide bill, which was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer in July, requiring all CSU campuses to have an independent sexual assault advocate by June 2015, according to a media release from the Chancellor’s Office. The advocate would have to report to an entity outside the university, however, it is unclear whether the advocate will be employed by the university or not.

“We must do all we can, as quickly as we can, to prevent sexual violence and educate and train our entire community to reduce the prevalence of and dispel the myths surrounding it,” wrote CSU Chancellor Timothy White.

According to Boxer’s website, the advocates will be independent, on-campus professionals responsible for ensuring that sexual assault survivors have access to:

• Emergency and follow-up medical care

• Guidance on reporting assaults to law enforcement

• Medical, forensic or evidence exams

• Crisis intervention, ongoing counseling and assistance throughout the process

• Information on their legal rights

In June, Chico State was named one of the four California universities in a sexual harassment and sexual violence audit. Some concerns cited in the audit included not fully complying with federal regulations, not adequately training employees on how to respond to reports of harassment and a lack of student education on sexual assault.

Among criticisms in the audit, Chico State was commended for having an advocate prior to the announcement by the chancellor’s office, said Dylan Saake, Chico State’s Title IX coordinator and director of labor relations and compliance.

Emily Peart, coordinator of the University Police Department’s Safe Place, is already Chico State’s independent sexual assault advocate, Saake said.

Peart assists victims with reporting the assault to police, swapping classes and supplying them with information while keeping complete confidentiality among the different ways she is trained to help victims, Saake said.

In addition to supporting the Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act, the CSU system has collaborated with state legislators to continue to improve prevention and awareness efforts in this area, according to the media release.

Among the changes, the Chancellor is in the process of hiring a system-wide Title IX compliance officer who will manage the efforts of the Title IX coordinators at every CSU.

Title IX decrees that programs that receive federal financial assistance cannot discriminate against an individual on the basis of gender. Title IX coordinators are responsible for keeping track of the university’s Title IX compliance efforts.

These new changes surrounding sexual assault will change the treatment of victims at every CSU, Saake said.

“It’s empowering,” he said. “Victims have all of these new outlets there to help them.”

Madison Holmes can be reached at: [email protected] or @madisonholmes95 on Twitter.