The Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, a student-run group at Pomona College, has implemented a new 24-hour pager system for students seeking immediate contact with an Advocate.
“It’s the difference between getting back to someone within 24 hours or five minutes,” Advocate Natalie Daifotis PO ’15 said. “If somebody is reaching out to take advantage of Advocates as a resource, getting that very close-after feedback can be very important and very reassuring.”
The new system allows the Advocates to counsel students at a critical time and direct them to emergency resources without having to go through a dean or Campus Safety.
“We can also arrange alternative transportation to the hospital that doesn’t require going through the administration,” said Meryl Seward PO ’13, a three-year Advocate.
Daifotis said that Advocates are not required to report sexual assaults in cases when the survivor wants to have a confidential conversation.
“We are going to do exactly what the person who contacted us wants to do,” she said. “We are there to support them in whatever capacity they want.”
The pager system officially launched two weeks ago. It is an alternative to the Advocates’ longstanding hotline, which is checked twice daily.
“We had been talking about how that is not the most effective way to do it,” Advocate Jett Bachman PO ’15 said. “We wanted a more immediate response system.”
“One of the reasons this came about is because one of the Advocates was formerly at a school that had an anonymous pager system and found it really effective,” Seward said.
At any given time, two Advocates are on call: a primary responder who has the pager on their person at all times, and a secondary responder who is on standby. The primary responders are responsible for responding as soon as they receive a page, even if they are in class.
The responders rotate every week. Out of 15 Advocates, eight have currently chosen to be in the rotation.
“I think it is really important to be able to get back to somebody right away, because in a situation in which you are reaching out, it is important that you get validation right away,” Bachman said. “If you wait a few hours it allows for a lot of second-guessing on whether you should have said something or not.”