The Daily Northwestern

CARE, MSA enter final phase of project on sexual violence, hookup culture

Fathma Rahman, Assistant Campus Editor

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As part of the final stage of the “It Affects Us All” project, administrators will host town hall and one-on-one meetings with students to conclude the year-long effort to better understand the needs of LGBT and black students on campus.

The project is a partnership between staff at the Center for Awareness, Response and Education and Multicultural Student Affairs who are collaborating to address sexual violence, relationship violence, hookup culture and intimacy in those communities, said Erin Clark, assistant director of CARE.

In past years, Clark said CARE has seen a “higher than proportionate” number of black and LGBT students utilizing its services. The project is focused in part on understanding why that is.

“Is that about accessing services, is that about a prevalence of violence or something about how we’ve advertised our services?” she said. “Understanding that is really important to continuing to improve, which is what got us started on this project.”

The effort includes creating programs, as well as making existing programs more responsive to the needs of marginalized students, Clark said. It began during Fall Quarter with a task force of staff members brainstorming ways to get student input, she said.

MSA assistant director JT Turner, one of the seven CARE and MSA staff members partnering for the project, said they have also done outreach to different groups which have been able to assist with their varying expertise.

“We’re hoping to make contact with a set amount of students and then together as a group analyze the information that we receive from those meetings,” Turner said. “(We’ll) turn it into a report that we can then send to the grant office and to administration to potentially get more resources and support for students.”

SESP sophomore Sophia Etling, a member of Rainbow Alliance, said she has seen a lot of dialogue on campus about supporting marginalized students, but she feels it is often just talk.

“That’s just been really frustrating especially as a queer person on campus,” Etling said. “I hope that ‘It Affects Us All’ actually leads to real change for marginalized students instead of just being a nice afterthought.”

Clark said the task force hopes also to adjust first-year education programs — such as the sexual health Essential NU and online programs like Agent of Change — and increase collaboration between the two offices.

“We’re always thinking about how we can be improving and how we are addressing multiple systems of oppression in the work that we’re doing,” Clark said. “But this project in particular, in the form of collaboration with MSA, is a great opportunity to really dig down in it and kind of deliberately make some changes.”

In addition to hopes for new programs in collaboration between CARE and MSA, Clark said the task force also wants to know what is working, so it knows what it can replicate in order to continue to grow.

This phase of conversations with students will be completed by the end of Spring Quarter, and the group will spend the summer analyzing them. The hope is to implement changes next year based on what is decided, Clark said.

“We’re here to advocate for students — students of color, LGBTQI students — anything we can do to move forward for the support of them, we feel like that’s part of our responsibility here,” Turner said. “Hopefully, we’re creating a space where students can see us as people they can come talk to and confide in and feel supported.”

Email: fathma@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @fathma_rahman

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