The Sexual Assault Support Services of Lane County, a confidential advocacy and outreach center for survivors of sexual violence, are having to cut back their face time with survivors at the University of Oregon.
Due to two employees quitting recently, the remaining six employees have had to cut back their hours of providing outreach, advocacy and support for people who’ve been sexually assaulted in order to keep offering all their services.
According to the annual university Clery report, sexual assault cases more than doubled from 13 in 2011 to 30 in 2012 in areas under jurisdiction of the UO Police Department. However, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that up to 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, meaning that numbers included in the Clery report could be too low.
Earlier in the year, the SASS campus advocate position almost disappeared due to a contract dispute with UO administration. According to Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Paul Shang, a new contract is in the process of being written. @@http://uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/paul%2Ashang@@
“There were a series of complications with the contract throughout the summer, and due to things slowing down during the holidays, the contract is now finally being written by the UO contracting services,” Shang said. “One of the hold ups were from the previous ASUO Senate transferring to the current senate. Intentions of the previous senate for this contract weren’t clear, but after the proposal was clarified, we talked to SASS and now everything’s back on track.”
The other major dispute with the contract was that according to the UO administration, SASS’s presence on campus would’ve been a doubling of services that the UO already offers.
Of the remaining employees at SASS, only SASS’s Executive Director B.B. Beltran is full time. Beltran says that even with the recent cutback, SASS still won’t be cutting back their services.
“Our services haven’t changed, and we’re still able to respond to people who need to talk to us with our 24/7 hotline,” Beltran said. “The only thing that will be changing is that we won’t have an advocate in person on Mondays and Fridays for drop-ins in our office.”
In order to boost services back up to previous levels, SASS is looking to hire an advocate who will deal primarily with UO students and will be located on campus. The other position they’re looking to fill is a bilingual volunteer.
In addition to providing support services, every April SASS partners with the ASUO Women’s Center to host Take Back the Night, a nationwide event at universities that aims to raise awareness for the issue and to end sexual violence. SASS and the Women’s Center turn Take Back the Night into a week-long event that involves rallies, a community tabling and a panel of guest speakers who share personal stories of surviving sexual violence.
“I just want for SASS to be able to have an opportunity to get an even bigger presence campus,” Amy Jones, a senate vice president and strong supporter of SASS, said. “The larger their presence, the more students who have experienced sexual assault will be able to contact them for help.” @@http://uoregon.orgsync.com/org/associatedstudentsofuo/Senate@@