Building momentum across the UC system

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Riverside, CA – When an incident of sexual violence is a reported, a chain of responders and services come into play.  When sexual violence is reported on a college/university campus, an additional institution with a hierarchy of stakeholders are legally responsible to provide adequate and timely services to survivors as well as corresponding disciplining of the student assailant.  Coordinated community response teams involve a multi-disciplinary response that hinges on partnerships with diverse campus and community stakeholders.

Having recently worked with Donna Barry, Nurse Practitioner and Forensic Medical Examiner, is the Director of the University Health Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey and her colleague, Chief Paul Cell, the Chief of Police at Montclair State University, it was easy for me to identify experts when the University of California flagship system asked for technical assistance in developing and sustaining coordinated community response teams.  As professionals with lengthy trajectories of working on campus and as former OVW grantees, Donna and Paul graciously accepted our invitation to attend the University of California Flagship System Steering Committee meeting.

As the OVW Campus Grant states, “coordinated community response teams and task forces should reflect the wide variety of organizations that are involved in campus life in order to involve all the different entities who have a role in meeting the needs of victims of violence against women on campus and holding offenders accountable.”  Building and sustaining a CCRT is challenging, daunting and inherently critical to combatting sexual violence and creating safer communities.

Over the course of four days in early August, Donna and Paul visited the University of California at San Francisco, University of California at Irvine and University of California at Riverside to provide a foundation for effective response teams rooted in safety and communication with campus and community partners.  One day was devoted to meeting with the University of California Steering Committee, the leadership that drives the CCRT at each UC campus.  Meeting the diverse group of committed individuals across the state reminded me not only of the challenges that confront students, staff and faculty but ultimately the tremendous progress made to improve campus response to sexual violence.

Livia Rojas, MSSW, is the Training and Resource Coordinator in the Campus Program at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where she provides training and technical assistance to recipients of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Grant to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on college and university campuses across the United States and territories. Livia has eleven years of working to advance human rights and student organizing through practice and research.

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