The Claremont Colleges’ first centralized support service for survivors of sexual assault opened its doors Sept. 16. Project Sister Family Services, an independent counseling and support service, will offer support to 7C students each Tuesday from its location on the Scripps College campus.
Project Sister Family Services began in 1972 after local residents recognized a need for survivor assistance across the city of Pomona. Over the years, the organization has grown to serve a clientele of over 45,000 women, children and men through various hotlines, support groups, education programs and counseling outreaches.
“We are here for any of [the survivors’] needs, any questions that they may have,” said Dr. Nancy Arzate, who will be stationed at the 7C Project Sister center. “We want them to know it wasn’t their fault, to know what they can do. We want them to know that they have options, that they have choices, that they have control.”
Arzate, a registered psychologist and state-certified sexual assault counselor, is unconnected to the college and said that all services are confidential. No cases or reports of assault will be discussed with the school or with law enforcement unless requested by a student.
Tiombe Sewell SC ’95, an adviser for the Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault programs at Scripps and at Pomona College, added that Azarte will
provide an important student service previously absent from the college.
“[Azarte is] trained to handle the entire spectrum of sexual
violence—from someone who’s calling because they may have experienced sexual
violence or abuse as a child, someone who just experienced sexual violence on
campus or someone who experienced dating violence—or intimate partner
violence,” Sewell said.
Scripps and Pomona spearheaded the 7C effort
to secure the Project Sister location on campus. Daren Mooko, an associate dean of students and the Title IX coordinator at Pomona, said that
the partnership has been a long time coming.
“The general process of getting Project Sister here started three to four years ago [when] we got feedback from students that they would like
resources specifically designed for survivors of sexual assault,” Mooko
The campaign to bring Project Sister to campus was part of a
larger on-campus effort to ensure constructive dialogue between students and
faculty members about sexual assault prevention and education.
“From a student affairs perspective,
providing this and other types of support helps ensure that students can get
help they need in order to be well and maximize the educational opportunities
provided by the Claremont Colleges,” Scripps Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson wrote in an email to TSL.
Sewell worked extensively with the 7Cs to coordinate the initiative and to raise sexual assault awareness across all campuses. Sewell said the Advocates program has a dual focus: to provide support and advocacy for survivors as well as to educate other students on what role they can play.
“We’ve been bringing collaborative efforts to the campus around safer parties,” Sewell said. “We’ve tried to build a consent culture on campus. We’ve provided training so students understand the rights, policies and needs of survivors.”
One of the Advocates, Meghan Wallner PO ’15, has worked with Sewell throughout this process.
“Our number one goal is survivor support—directly working with survivors through our 24-hour hotline,” Wallner said. “We’re creating a culture of consent on Pomona’s campus while trying to reach out to different and diverse members of the community through the survivors project.”
For those wishing to get involved in advocacy programs, the Advocates
for Survivors of Sexual Assault will be holding a discussion titled “What Sex Ed
Never Taught You” on Wednesday, Sept. 24, and a “Supporters Workshop” on Saturday, Sept. 27, in Pomona’s
Edmunds Building room 101.
Project Sister’s on-campus location will be open to students and survivors from all seven members of the Claremont University Consortium every Tuesday, with walk-in sessions from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and by-appointment sessions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The organization occupies a cottage located at 1030 Dartmouth Avenue, on the northeast corner of Garrison Theater.
The first 10 sessions are free. Students can call (909) 607-0690 for more information about
Project Sister at the Claremont Colleges or to schedule appointments.