June meeting notes, part 1: Report from Aurora Center, victim support center.

The meeting was called to order at 6:10 PM by Chair, Larry Ranallo.  19 people attended.

Leading off a series of reports on support services available in Minneapolis to  victims of assault, Bronte Stewart-New, Legal Advocacy Coordinator described the menu of services available  from  the Aurora Center, University of Minnesota.

The Aurora Center  currently has 67 full time staff.  Many volunteer first and then are offered jobs at  the center.  Ms Stewart-New volunteered 4 years and was hired early in 2017.

The first step toward reducing the incidence of inappropriate sexual events on campus is to define terms.  The U of MN  distinguishes harassment, assault, relationship violence, harm, stalking, and consent.

Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances that are presented as a condition of employment or academic advancement, or which have the effect of interfering with an individual’s performance,  or which create a hostile or offensive environment in any University event.

Sexual assault is actual, attempted or threatened sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent.  This includes but is not limited to intercourse. Rape is sexual intercourse without  freely given consent.

Relationship violence is causing physical harm, or threats of physical harm that rise in a personal, intimate relationship.

Harm means engaging in conduct that endangers OR threatens to endanger the physical and/or mental health, safety or welfare of another person and includes (but is not limited to) threatening, stalking, harassing, intimidating, or assaulting.

Stalking is behavior directed at a specific person that is unwanted and which would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  At the U of MN, the focus is on the impact on the targeted person, not  the intent of the doer.

Per U of MN official policy, consent is informed, freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to engage in sexual activity, expressed in clear and unambiguous words or actions.

Prevalence of  assault reported by U of MN enrolled students, not limited to assault while enrolled: in 2015 the Center conducted a Health and Safety self-reporting survey.  34% of students contacted responded to the survey.

1)  24% reported being sexually assaulted.  The breakdown was 11% of all males and 32 % of all females
2) 19% reported domestic violence.  The breakdown was 12% of all males and 23% of all females.

3) Student perpetrators were 11% (again, this is self-reporting)

When the survey limited to reports of assault during enrollment, the picture changes slightly:

1) 6% of males reported post enrollment assault
2) 23% of females reported assault since enrollment
3) 34% of GLBT or gender-non-conforming students reported assault since enrollment.
These reports parallel similar reports from other  universities in percentage of reported assault.  In every category, the numbers were higher for students of color than for others.  BRONTE:  THIS DOES NOT JIBE WITH THE STATEMENT TWO SENTENCES DOWN: “12.8% white”
Additionally, the number of disabled students reporting assault were almost twice the number of students who do not consider themselves disabled, 21% v. 11%

Finally, when the report is sorted by race/ethnicity, another picture emerges, as 7% of reporters were Asian, 11.1% were Pacific Islander, 11;5% were black or African American, 12.8% white, 14.9% Hispanic, but 21.7% were Native American or Alaska Native.

Once a person decides to seek help, Aurora provides immediate and long term assistance on many levels.  There is a 24/7/365 help line staffed by volunteers with staff backup.  Aurora provides crisis counseling, support groups, and a substantial menu of advocacy services, not limited to dealing with academic impact, helping with housing, assisting with medical care, supporting a victim during police interviews, and helping with legal matters like obtaining restraining orders and other legal affairs.

Advocacy is the broadest service.  Advocacy begins with immediate emotional support to sexual assault victims, which is continued as long as necessary.  An advocate’s goals are to help the client avoid re-victimization (insuring fair treatment), to coordinate local  campus and community resources and programs.  The Aurora program is completely free to the client and completely confidential.  Advocates do not make decisions for a client, but carefully lay out options so the client is able to mindfully make his or her own fully informed decisions.

People affiliated with the University have  two first level options, but services may flow from one to the other.

First: Seek Support, don’t report.  Support is available through the Aurora Center (612.626.9111), through Boynton Mental Health Services (which also has a 24-hour crisis line at 612.301.4673) or from student Counseling Services.

Second: Report.  The Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action office is the strongest place to find help for violation of Title IX clauses,  Another place is to get help from the police (Emergency is a 911 call and non-emergency is 612.624.COPS 624.2677)

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