Third and final listening meeting fosters discussion on campus sexual assault resources

Two previous listening meetings prompted by the Advocacy Center's closure took place in the summer.

About 50 Syracuse University students and faculty members gathered for the third and final listening meeting on sexual assault services on Monday in Schine Student Center. Participants also included members of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education and Advocacy, including co-chair Chase Catalano, and representatives from the Division of Student Affairs.

Previous listening meetings took place during the summer in response to immediate concerns about the Advocacy Center’s closure in June. The Advocacy Center’s services were consolidated to the Counseling Center.

Catherine Gerard, director of the Maxwell School’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration, and about ten trained graduate students facilitated Monday’s meeting.

The listening meeting had three main purposes: to voice concerns and issues related to changes in sexual violence prevention, education and advocacy at SU; to identify remaining gaps in these services; and to collect ideas for improving the campus and community culture related to relationship and sexual violence.

Rebecca Dayton, associate vice president of Student Affairs, Health and Wellness Units, began the meeting by clarifying what sexual and relationship violence services are available, to whom they are available, and when and where they can be accessed. She also addressed concerns about education and advocacy activities on campus.

“These services have actually been refined and enhanced even further as a result of listening to you, and I think at this point I feel very, very confident,” Dayton said. “I feel good about the breadth, I feel good about the depth of the services, and I feel good about the team of people that are working very hard, every week on these services.”

Then participants clustered in groups of eight to ten, each with a meeting facilitator, and discussed each of the meeting’s three goals individually. They noted big ideas on Post-it pads set up on easels.

Afterward, participants shared these big ideas with the group at large. Some commonalities emerged, including worries about the current lack of a communal safe space and the lack of universal education and training, as well as the importance of clear and consistent communication moving forward.

The meeting drew to a close around 6 p.m. with final remarks from Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, senior vice president and dean of Student Affairs. She said five key groups will receive notes from the listening meeting: the Chancellor’s Workgroup, the Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team, the communications manager for the Division of Student Affair, the Campus Master Planning Program and the Strategic Planning Committees.

Some students said they left the meeting feeling positive, while recognizing that there is still a ways to go.

“I think the meeting went really well, I think it was a great way to open up dialogue between different groups of people,” said Shelby Zink, a fifth-year industrial and interactive design senior. “It’s just sad to me that there wasn’t a more diverse group of people here, more students. I think they are still missing that one key aspect.”

Keagan Kirk-Singer, also a fifth-year industrial and interactive design senior added, “It definitely still feels like there’s this barrier between the people who are running the show, and everybody else. If there is going to be successful change they’re going to have to take more steps to really talk to students and understand where we’re coming from, because these services are for us.”

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