Following in the footsteps of Pomona College’s Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, students at Scripps College and Claremont McKenna College have been working to establish Advocates groups on their own respective campuses. The Advocates is an organization that provides a 24-hour crisis hotline and other confidential resources to survivors of sexual violence and leads workshops during first-year orientation.
“We’re in the process of finalizing recruitment for the year,” said Theresa Iker SC ’14, president of the Scripps Advocates group. “We hope to have about 30 Advocates by the end of the month, and then we’ll train them through the end of November.”
The Scripps Advocates’ training process, which will teach the student Advocates different methods of providing support to survivors of sexual violence, will take some of the Pomona Advocates’ system and adapt it for the Scripps environment, according to Iker.
“We’ll be hopefully launching our hotline at the beginning of spring semester,” she said.
Until then, the group will focus its attention on discussions and forums to raise awareness about the support resources it can provide for students. The group already has hosted its first event, Party Culture 101. Aimed at first-years, the discussion centered on what happens at parties and how to establish consent.
“Our next event is going to be a forum about the Miley Cyrus fiasco at the [MTV] VMAs [Video Music Awards], talking about what she means, along with a discussion of racism and cultural appropriation,” Iker said.
The event is planned for Oct. 3.
In addition, Iker said the group has benefited from administrative support at Scripps including Dean of Students Rebecca Lee and Assistant Dean of Students Marla Love, who is the club’s adviser.
“We’re so thankful to have faculty and staff guiding us in the process,” she said.
At CMC, the Advocates group is in a more formative stage. With about seven students, the group is looking to recruit more.
“We just submitted a funding request, and we’ve talked to Dean [Mary] Spellman,” said Denys Reyes CM ’16, who is part of the group working to establish the Advocates at CMC. “She obviously wants us to be careful with what we’re doing, but she’s behind us.”
“The hotline will probably be up next year, since we’re just starting out,” Reyes added.
Like the Scripps Advocates, the CMC Advocates will still be active in other ways, focusing on discussions and Take Back the Night events. They already have enlisted the help of those who train Pomona’s Advocates in order to help establish their own training program.
“We’re also going to plan a meeting with all the Advocates groups together in one place,” Reyes said. “I think it’d be cool to eventually have one hotline for all 7Cs.”
According to Reyes, the recent “Dear Colleague” letter that described how schools must respond to sexual violence under Title IX, a national policy that prohibits sex-based discrimination in academic institutions, was a catalyst for the creation of the Advocates groups across the 5Cs.
“There’s more visibility and there’s more discussion happening,” he said. “People are realizing there’s a problem.”
Reyes said that it was important to have student-provided resources in addition to administrative support.
“There’s a generational difference,” she said. “Dean Spellman won’t understand what it’s like to go to CMC like a current student. It’s a relatability issue. You’re in the culture and you live with these students every day, so you interact with them and have a certain understanding of what it’s actually like.”