ASAP has changed its name from Acquaintance Sexual Assault Prevention to Abuse & Sexual Assault Prevention to reflect ASAP’s new role as an umbrella group for all of the sexual assault prevention initiatives on campus.
Up until this year, ASAP existed in tandem with other groups like the Sexual Misconduct and Assault Response Team (SMART), where ASAP’s primary responsibility was to conduct workshops during Orientation Week for incoming freshmen. Last year, due to changes in college policy regarding Title IX claims and Clery Act reports, SMART could not continue providing its confidential services to students. As a result, SMART dissolved, so ASAP will expand to fill its place. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which places new obligations on the college regarding prevention of abuse and sexual violence, also played a role in the decision to increase ASAP’s scope of responsibilities.
“The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act commands the scope of attention that the college needs to give to other forms of abuse, not just sexual assault and violence,” said Beth Kotarski, director of the Worth Health Center. “These include the continuum of gender violence, domestic violence, stalking and anything else that is abuse. To just use the ‘acquaintance’ term would be antiquated.”
To fulfill its increased responsibilities, ASAP will incorporate new workshops for student groups and upperclassmen. While the ASAP coordinators have not decided what workshops ASAP will offer, they may include bystander intervention workshops, which discuss how people can overcome the bystander effect, as well as workshops for athletic teams and other student groups, with the aim of reaching out to upperclassmen.
“ASAP will be a lot bigger than it was,” said Rebecca Ahmad ’14, one of the ASAP student co-coordinators. “The organizational model is actually being expanded so that it incorporates more of the freshman year and involves more upperclassmen.”
Currently, ASAP only organizes one series of workshops, which takes place during freshman orientation. As part of this transition, the coordinators hope to have workshops throughout the year, providing a yearlong orientation of topics related to abuse and sexual assault for freshmen. According to Ahmad, one possibility is having a theme every month and workshops organized around those themes. The changes regarding ASAP workshops will result in a change in the workshop curriculum.
“I definitely think that the workshop curriculum will change, not because the material we have now needs to be changed or is outdated, but rather we want to expand our curriculum,” said Alex Noyes ’15, another ASAP co-coordinator. “Right now, we can’t go into depth with the topics that we cover, and there are some topics we never get to cover.”
ASAP will also set up a peer response team, which would operate a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week hotline and take on responsibilities similar to SMART. Students on the peer response team will undergo 40 hours of training in order to provide confidential support services for other students on campus.
“Now, with the new confidentiality rules, people who want to be a confidential resource would have to receive a 40-hour training through an organization, like Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), that is qualified to do the training,” Noyes said. WOAR is a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that seeks to eliminate all forms of sexual violence.
Overall, the ASAP coordinators wish to increase awareness among students about various issues related to abuse and sexual assault.
“We’re really focused on trying to change the norms concerning culture, concerning consent and concerning what we look at as healthy relationship behavior,” Ahmad said.
The coordinators also hope to increase student participation in the sexual assault initiatives and events on campus.
“We hope for as many students as possible,” said Nora Kerrich ’16, another ASAP co-coordinator. “Ideally, we will have a core group of eight to ten people who will have gone through the 40-hour training and will be available as peer supporters, and five to six people who would be trained in a different way to accompany students who need to go to the hospital. We also need facilitators, and there could obviously be overlap between these roles, but it would be absolutely wonderful to see as many people as possible participate.”
Violence Prevention Educator and Advocate and ASAP Co-coordinator Nina Harris agreed. “I think one of the biggest changes was creating a space where students could participate at their own level of interest,” she said. “We’re creating more of a space for students to engage, find their passions, be innovative and creative.”
Phoebe Cook ’15, who facilitated workshops for ASAP during Freshman Orientation 2013, is happy about the ASAP changes.
“We’re moving towards being more united and organized, which will make us more efficient,” Cook said. “There really are a lot of people on campus who care about these topics and have a lot of energy and who want to help everyone. I think a little more organization and structure is going to allow people to do that.”