Partnership with Rape Crisis Center continues to grow

By Alicia Key, Managing Editor

Baldwin Wallace University and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center are working together to increase awareness of sexual assault while also providing resources to students who have dealt with these issues on campus.
The CRCC is a non-profit organization that supports and educates victims of sexual assault while promoting ways to avoid and prevent domestic abuse and sexual assault. In their vision statement, the CRCC says the organization was created to “eliminate sexual violence.”
The partnership between BW and the organization began three years ago when the CRCC contacted the university with an opportunity. BW now serves as one of the CRCC’s satellite centers for campus outreach, where the organization has an established base for the student population to utilize in the case of sexual violence.
The outreach office at BW is run by the Health Center’s Counseling Services.
Tessa Greene, the Campus Outreach specialist assigned to BW, said the roles of the university and the non-profit organization are distinct in the partnership.
“CRCC provides free, confidential, on-campus therapy and advocacy, as well as education and training,” Greene said. “BW students, staff, and faculty provide programming, events and leadership as vehicles to share information about CRCC resources and be catalysts for change on campus.”
One example of the partnership’s efforts is educating and training the university’s athletic coaches about sexual assault. CJ Harkness, BW’s Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX administrator, along with several CRCC specialists, have been working on educating athletic coaches on policies and advocating resources for student athletes.
Similarly, Harkness said Greene will also be reaching out to the athletic staff sometime in the spring to continue their training.
“[Athletic coaches] are a group of staff who have an extraordinary ability to impact the population they serve, which is by nature the culture of athletics,” Harkness said.
Both the CRCC and BW benefit from this partnership, Greene said, as the CRCC can assist more survivors of sexual violence while also collaborating with university administration and campus leaders to further aid and support victims of assault simply because the organization has a platform on the campus.
From BW’s perspective, the student population has the resources, such as specialized consultation and violence/trauma investigation teams, to foster a safe and caring environment for those experience sexual assault, she said.
“More students at BW than before now have access to tools, information, and services that allow them to be better active bystanders, supporters of survivors of sexual violence, and most important of all, heal from experiences of sexual violence,” Greene said.
Most students, however, do not take full advantage of the services available to them, Harkness said. In fact, Harkness said he has been disappointed that the university and the CRCC are not seeing the numbers of participants they had expected.
There is hope, however; he said he is anticipating that after two years “that first-year students experiencing the [CRCC staff] directly at Orientation will raise [the CRCC’s] profile on campus.”
As BW and the CRCC’s partnership continues to grow, the university has begun to take more initiatives to address sexual assault outside of the training and education the CRCC provides.
For example, Harkness, Greene, and a few other individuals attended a training session over the summer that addressed Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview, which deals with how the brain functions under extreme stress.
As a result, BW has altered their investigative methods to make victims of assault feel more comfortable when being interviewed, which has in turn improved the efficiency of their investigations.
Greene hopes the outreach office will participate in more events and programs on campus, as well as solidify their relationships with campus leaders and student organizations so that not only will BW faculty and staff have access to the tools and services the CRCC provides, but for students to become more aware of the resources available to them.