An annual program will allow Albion College students, staff and faculty to become supporters and advocates for sexual assault survivors, regardless of whether the assault happened on campus, off campus or in the far past.
Albion will host Local Sexual Assault Advocates training on Saturday, Jan. 26. Battle Creek’s Bronson Health will run the free program through its Sexual Assault Services department.
Michelle Croce, associate director of Counseling Services, coordinates the Albion LSAA program. She said enrollees will first learn how to support a contact — someone who approaches an LSAA as a sexual assault survivor or with information about a survivor.
Without LSAA training, Croce said providing support to a contact can be overwhelming.
“LSAAs are trained to sit with them, to listen, to support in an appropriate and non-blaming way,” she said.
Next, enrollees learn to advocate for survivors. Federal, state and campus policies and laws regarding sexual assault are discussed, and additional support resources are presented. If a contact requests resources or information, the LSAA can supply it.
Once training is complete, LSAAs can offer near-confidentiality to contacts. Most college staff and faculty must report sexual assaults to Campus Safety under the federal Clery Act if a contact discloses information.
LSAAs only need to disclose that they have had contact with a survivor to Campus Safety, said Ken Snyder, the department’s director. Nothing else, including identifying details, is needed.
If a contact discloses if the assault occurred on or off campus or whether the assault was rape or forced fondling, an LSAA is required to report that information. Croce said LSAAs are trained not to ask for details like these, only to support and advocate.
Fear of publicity and disclosure may keep survivors from confiding to others, said Snyder. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that 20 percent of student survivors reported their sexual assaults to public safety officials.
LSAAs may not only encourage survivors to find support, Croce said an LSAA’s knowledge of policies may help survivors regain the power they may have lost when assaulted.
“Information helps you be able to make decision and engage in behaviors that can take some of your control back,” she said.
Elle Jansen, a senior from Dexter, Michigan, took Albion’s LSAA training in 2017. She had heard students disagree with the College’s judicial system. LSAA training gave her the knowledge of the judicial process and the ability to advocate for survivors going through it.
“This is a much safer and more comfortable way for most survivors to share their experiences because it puts them in control of what gets reported,” she said.
To sign up, or to check eligibility requirements, contact Croce at firstname.lastname@example.org.