Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wellness Center sets up OASIS for students to know rights and get help

Correction appended.

If a student wants to contact one of the confidential victim advocates on campus, the process can be confusing. There are two staff members, each with their own phone lines and email addresses, and each with different official job titles.

But in order to simplify the information into one pathway, confidential advocates Daniel Rappaport and Sara Yzaguirre, in addition to other staff members in the Wellness Center, have teamed up to create OASIS, a new sub-office within the Wellness Center.

A short, succinct acronym for the new Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence, OASIS will consolidate services from the Sexual Assault Prevention coordinator (Rappaport), and the coordinator for Victim Advocacy Services (Yzaguirre), into one, easy-to-reach email address and phone number.

“The OASIS number first rings to my office, and if I can’t pick up, it goes to Daniel’s office,” Yzaguirre, the coordinator for Victim Advocacy Services, said. A missed call will go to a mutual voicemail box, with the voicemails emailed to both victim advocates, she said.

The idea for one consolidated office began in the fall of 2014. As the Wellness Center staff searched for a person to fill Yzaguirre’s current position, they began to think about a separate structure that could house both staff members under one name, Rappaport said.

“We wanted a place where students can reach out, and it’s just one email, one phone number, to make it very clear,” Yzaguirre said.

Although Rappaport’s name became associated with victim advocacy, his role is 60 percent outreach and prevention services, while Yzaguirre’s is 60 percent direct advocacy, she said.

“We really want to show a unified front, not just one person,” Rappaport said. “We are continuing to build our resources, but to do that, we need a brand that is identifiable.”

With the help of the Sexual Assault Working Group, chaired by Dean Robert Hradsky, and Student Government, the interns and staff of the Wellness Center researched names used by other universities. OASIS had only been used by a few other schools, according to Rappaport.

With the name approved, Rappoport and Yzaguirre are currently developing logos and finalizing a new sexual assault resources brochure with updated information on the University policy. All of these will be part of a branding campaign to raise awareness of the new office.

During the spring of 2015, the new name will be promoted in both a campus-wide email and through events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, according to Yzaguirre.

Starting April 1, the Wellness Center along with several on-campus partners will provide awareness and education through several diverse events including:

  • Know Your Rights, April 6, which also occurs the first Monday of every month each semester
  • Sexual Assault Town Hall and “The Hunting Ground” screening on April 20
  • Take Back the Night, April 13 at 7 p.m. on the Quad
  • Self-care workshop, April 14
  • The Clothesline Project, April 20
  • The Right to Party Party April 21 on the Quad from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Right to Party Party Afterparty, April 21, time and location to be decided.

The sub-office should be up and running by the beginning of next semester, Rappaport said.

In light of the Title IX investigation into the University, Rappaport believed the existence of the new sub-office will impact the University culture.

“In terms of continuing to improve an environment, I’m very confident just the existence of a visible program working to support survivors, directly or indirectly, and working on prevention, will be incredible for the campus,” he said.

OASIS will centralize the services the coordinators provide to students, including:

  • advocacy services
  • education on resources on and off campus
  • education about the conduct code process
  • guidance with filing a formal complaint
  • education with victim’s rights
  • Title IX compliance
  • academic accommodations, through the office itself or through the Office of the Dean of Students

By branding the office, the roles of the OASIS staff members becomes more visible, Yzaguirre said.

“No matter how big or how small OASIS is, it’ll just be, OASIS, reliable and consistent,” Rappaport said. “That [a] person can contact OASIS and not have to worry about if they are going to speak to the right phone number or if they got the right office. It’s to make sure they get the best services.”

acohen@theeagleonline.com

A previous version of this article misstated the name of the documentary about sexual assault in college. The film will be screened April 20.


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