Project S.A.F.E., an organization on campus dedicated to promoting sexual assault awareness and survivor advocacy, is planned to move its offices from South Trailer A to the Center for Gender Equity (CGE). According to Project S.A.F.E. coordinator and survivor advocate Naddia Palacios, the purpose of the change is to give the group a permanent and private safe space for students.
In order to accommodate both Project S.A.F.E. and the CGE’s programming, the location in the lower lounge of Stewart-Cleland Hall will undergo renovations before Project S.A.F.E. changes location. According to Assistant Director for Intercultural Affairs Dominic Alletto, the renovations are tentatively scheduled this upcoming summer, although no formal dates have been set and funding still needs to be secured.
The renovation would split the areas occupied by each organization by a removable wall, giving each of them privacy. During programs, the wall can be retracted in order to create more room.
“We always knew [South Trailer A] was going to be temporary,” Palacios said. “The Division of Student Affairs kind of spearheaded this, and they know that summers here are usually slow for students so it would be the prime time to do it.”
According to both Palacios and Alletto, the organizations will still remain separate entities despite sharing the same space.
“I still think it will be really important for the sake of survivors and people who are interested in accessing both the CGE and [Project] S.A.F.E.’s resources that there is still some division,” Alletto said.
Both organizations will have an office for the programming assistants (PAs) to work in, as well as an office for each coordinator. There will also be a private room connected to Palacio’s office in which survivors can spend time.
According to CGE PA and Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) major Abhilasha Bhola (sophomore), the move could facilitate greater cooperation between the two groups.
“I think there will be a little more of an integrative approach in addressing both the issues of the CGE and Project S.A.F.E. together that could potentially happen,” Bhola said.
From the time of its inception until last spring, Project S.A.F.E. was under the umbrella of organizations contained within Intercultural Affairs and was located in the CGE. In fall 2013, the group was modified in order to provide greater support for sexual assault survivors. The college hired Palacios as the coordinator of Project S.A.F.E. and a full-time advocate for survivors, and Project S.A.F.E was moved under the control of Emmons Student Wellness Center.
“It’s more integrated now, as far as having more psychologists and more confidential sources,” Project S.A.F.E. PA and economics and politics double major Kevin Siebs (senior) said. “It makes it easier to refer [students to mental health services].”
As a result, the organization moved to Trailer A in order to give Palacios a private space to meet with students.
“We couldn’t just make [the CGE] work structurally, where two people are supervising different staff members,” Palacios said. “We really wouldn’t have control over access, and there wasn’t enough privacy.”