ASW Senate approved a request of $2,500 toward the Student Survivors of Sexual Violence Fund during its general session meeting Nov. 5.
The request is in response to a resolution that was passed in the last Senate meeting, supporting the creation of the fund. Vice President Kenzie Campbell presented the request, noting the importance of providing support to sexual violence survivors outside of the Title IX office.
“There are many reasons why we should be pursuing next steps,” Campbell said. “One of them is that a lot of our constituents want it.”
The fund will allow ASW to identify the monetary impact on survivors and support them in a tangible way, Campbell said.
The total fund will amount to $5,000 pooling from different outside resources, with one of these being President Beth Dobkin.
“Kenzie and Maggie brought that to me and said that they were interested in a survivor assistance program,” said Dobkin in an interview with The Forum. “I said that I would match their support.”
In doing so, Dobkin will also be allocating $2,500 toward the resolution through private donor funding.
According to the request, at least six students have been forced off campus for referrals because of limited college resources. With this pilot fund, senators hope to collect data for a potential permanent fund in the future.
Through this fund, Campbell said ASW will be able to identify what resources these students need and to shed light on this important issue.
Up until now, resources include going to the Title IX office or counseling on campus — which Campbell said doesn’t work for every student.
Students who are victims of gender-based violence can access the funds in two ways. First, if the student goes through the Student Health Services, their office will waive the fees for the visit and testing. Second, the student can request access to the fund through Westminster’s Victim Advocate through email or Google form.
Both methods are private, meaning the Dean of Students office and Title IX Office will not be notified of the request unless the student approves it.
“Students would have to engage with Title IX in order to solicit her support,” Campbell said. “So, there’s a lot of barriers or systemic reasons why students may not feel ready to go to Title IX or safe going to Title IX or see going to Title IX as the best option.”
By creating a resource outside of Title IX and the academic institution, it can eliminate any chance of institutional processes being unfair.
“This is a gap,” Campbell said. “And now we are trying to address it.”