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New Crisis Center Planned for Fall

Focus on sexual assault prevention, survivor support


President Robert A. Brown announced yesterday that the University will establish an on-campus crisis center this fall, dedicated to sexual assault prevention and support for survivors of sexual assault and other forms of physical abuse, such as hazing.

“We are committed to working to ensure that our academic community is one in which uncivil, violent, or abusive treatment of others is not tolerated,” Brown wrote in a letter to the BU community, “and that we have the appropriate means in place both to reduce the likelihood of such events and to provide strong support to those affected when, despite our best efforts, such events occur.”

The new center will be overseen by Student Health Services, but will be housed at a separate, yet-to-be-determined location. Brown said staffing details for the new center are still under discussion, but there will be at least three full-time clinical staff who are specifically trained in crisis and sexual assault counseling, as well as one full-time nonclinical “prevention specialist” who will help with training, outreach, and referrals.

The president said recent events, which include two alleged sexual assaults by BU men’s ice hockey players, two accounts of alleged hazing, and several dormitory shower peeping incidents this spring, “have lent a focus to our discussions,” about the new center, “but they are not solely responsible for it.”

“I believe that the vitality of our community depends on individual actions and the responsibility we take for ourselves and for others,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Boston University can learn from what we have experienced this spring and become a better community for living and learning.”

Students from the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism (CGSA) had been advocating for an on-campus rape crisis center, but recent events accelerated that push. At least six students contributed to a 30-page proposal for an Assault Response and Prevention Services office and presented it to Brown in April, along with more than 1,200 supporting signatures. Among their requests were prevention services, additional crisis counselors, and mandatory Boston Area Rape Crisis Center training for campus leaders—including coaches, faculty members, and athletes.

“We hope that the new center is going to have a multifaceted approach to both prevention and care,” says Ariana Katz (CAS’12), a CGSA codirector and a proposal author, who celebrated the news by dancing along Comm Ave. “So many people are affected by interpersonal violence in different ways. I hope the new center cares for every type of person who walks into it,” including, she says, those in the LGBTQ community.

In his letter to the community, the president wrote that he is “grateful to members of our community, including members of student groups, who have provided information and insightful suggestions about how we might improve our services.”

In addition to the creation of the new center, Brown said, the University is working to change students’ attitudes toward one another and the kinds of choices they make on a day-to-day basis. During new student orientation last summer, the University introduced “bystander” education, which teaches students warning signs of excessive alcohol use or predatory behavior and how to intervene. The same training will now be required this fall, Brown said in his letter, for officers of student organizations receiving funding from the Student Allocations Board.

“Looking out for each other—intervening in thoughtful, effective ways—is an important piece of civility on campus,” said Brown. “It’s important to know that our BU police are there to help. When a fellow student is in trouble, calling BUPD can make a life-or-death difference.”

Students seemed supportive of Brown’s move yesterday afternoon.

“After everything that’s happened this year, it’s necessary,” says Grant Meacham (CFA’15). He says that the new BU center will send a message to the broader community that “we’re trying to take precautions so it doesn’t happen again.”

Hannah Michlmayr (SAR’15), who was in class with Katz and Sarah Merriman (CAS’12), CGSA’s event coordinator and another proposal author, when they heard the news, says she is impressed by the power of activism here. “Students can work with people and actually have a say in what goes on in the community,” she says, “instead of having it dictated to them.”

Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Follow Leslie Friday on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

18 Comments on New Crisis Center Planned for Fall

  • GO CGSA on 04.30.2012 at 12:19 pm


    • Elsee on 05.02.2012 at 5:52 pm

      I agree, thank you President Brown, all the students, and everyone else who helped make this possible!

  • Jane on 04.30.2012 at 2:42 pm

    This is really wonderful. Thanks, administration, for listening, but especially thank you to the activist students who tirelessly agitated on behalf of themselves and their fellow students for respect, survivor support, and safe & consensual sex education. Some of those students are graduating this year, and I hope they understand how meaningful this legacy will be to future students who will be able to enjoy an institutionalized cultural shift at BU. Thank you, all of you, for your hard work, and thanks BU admin for respecting and acting on these sincere, constructive proposals.

  • One of the 200 black male students on campus on 04.30.2012 at 10:35 pm

    Our tuition goes to pay for the fact that BU gives full ride scholarships to a team of sexual predators? Not only that, but we also have to pay for people to get support from frats hazing them. I dont see how this is my fault and why I have to pay for others screw ups. Maybe if BU didn’t turn a blind eye to the hockey team until something goes wrong, things wouldn’t happen. Again, just more reasons to raise my tuition. Thank-you BU.

    • WC on 05.01.2012 at 11:44 am

      Judging from this post, you’ve never been sexually assaulted or severely hazed. I hope that you never are. It’s language like yours that discourages survivors of sexual assault and hazing from coming forward because they think that no one will want to help them.

      Sorry I’m not sorry that I (and all of the other people on BU’s campus who have ever been assaulted) am causing you grief by advocating for a crisis center. Sorry I’m not sorry that my tuition dollars are going somewhere important – helping survivors cope with what’s happened to them, giving information to the BU community about how they can help their friends deal with hazing/sexual assault, and creating a safe space for people to go to if they’ve been attacked. This is a huge step in the right direction for BU and I am proud of my school for doing the right thing.

      Again, I hope that you are never a victim of sexual assault or hazing. But if one of your good friends was, wouldn’t you want them to have somewhere to go?

    • S on 05.01.2012 at 11:49 am

      the purpose of the center is to PREVENT these things from happening…. you’re objecting to have part of your tuition go towards helping students stay safe?

    • M on 05.01.2012 at 2:41 pm

      You’re not paying for anything, your parents are.

      • misc on 05.03.2012 at 10:05 am

        Actually, none of you are paying for this or the hockey team members’ education. Your tuition $ doesn’t go toward other people’s scholarships or centers like this. It barely covers your education. Fundraising and endowment money goes toward programs and financial aid.

  • Teri on 05.01.2012 at 9:13 am

    Congratulations to all the students that worked on the proposal!

  • Mo on 05.01.2012 at 9:29 am

    Certainly a step in the right direction.

  • Another male student on campus on 05.01.2012 at 9:49 am

    Considering BU’s population is more than 50% female, I’m surprised it took BU so long to organize a support group like this. That being said, I’m glad BU is taking further steps to prevent situations that have occurred this past year and to help students who may be victims of such events. For anyone who complains about “increasing tuition” for this center, you probably shouldn’t be a student here considering the tuition is already astronomical. This is a great step by BU and anyone that has something negative to say about it should ask their female friends on campus how they feel about it and I’m sure they will be more than supportive.

  • AP on 05.01.2012 at 10:16 am

    I do not think this is something BU should be proud of. I graduated from BU a mere 5 years ago, and back then, the culture at the university was completely different. Students were expected to behave like adults, and when they did not, they were swiftly and appropriately sanctioned. University policy supported the students who wanted to study first, not party first. However, the Brown administration has worked to drastically change the focus and atmosphere of the University to one that meets the stereotype of the “traditional college experience” to better compete in the rankings magazines, and the school has had an explosion of student misbehavioral scandals as a result.

    I’m glad victims are getting the help they need. I’m sad that the Administration is incubating a culture where students are paying $50,000 a year to become victims.

    • KT on 05.01.2012 at 10:38 am

      How can you substantiate ANY of this? Examples? Proof? Please don’t make sweeping “back in my day” generalizations, especially considering your day was… 2007? 2006? Whipper-snapper, you don’t have a right to be that jaded yet.

      • AP on 05.01.2012 at 11:42 am

        The entire administration was completely restructured after I graduated, so this isn’t jaded. BU has a completely different focus than it did even in 2006-07, a different logo, and far fewer campus buildings.

        I have “evidence and examples” of prior incidents- I know plenty of students who were booted from housing, put on academic probation, or involved with the Boston Police for lesser infractions.

  • BU Alumni on 05.01.2012 at 10:21 am

    Robert Brown seems to understand the needs of the student body. Had Silber still been around, this would have been another scar on the university simply brushed under the rug.

    The reputation of a great university is at stack if these types of things continue. I am happy to see the problem recognized and hopefully, eliminated.

    • Nathan on 05.01.2012 at 1:19 pm

      I agree that President Brown is an improvement (although I’ve only beeen with BU since 2006.)

      For a couple of years I’ve been concerned about Dean Elmore with his hearty videos for students, jumping into the Charles River fundraising stunt and his participation in the sleazy Keisha Lipdub.

      Dean of students should not be a popularity contest when it also sends the message that BU it a carefree party school. BU undergraduates are all Dean Elmore students – I hate to think that these student troubles represent the future of BU.

      • Student on 05.02.2012 at 1:19 pm

        I’m a current student at BU, and while I think Elmore is a personable guy, I agree that he doesn’t exactly set the standards for behavior. I’ve also noticed that whenever he makes statements related to bad things on campus, he never says anything of substance–it’s just a lot of hedging and hand-wringing. Somehow it makes me feel like I can’t trust him to get much done.

  • Former Student on 03.27.2013 at 12:41 pm

    I felt compelled to write you with gratitude and share a bit of my story after seeing this notice that BU has opened a new crisis center. I was a student at BU in 2001 and was sexually assaulted by a classmate. The incident was horrific, but the events that followed (as often is the case) were as bad, if not worse, than the actual assault. I returned to my dorm (pants bloodied) following the incident and my RA informed me that I needed to go to the hospital. Once there, a rape kit was done and I was questioned and threatened by a Boston Police Officer (i.e., “if you don’t press charges, the next women he rapes will be your fault”). I left the university community and my promising career as a musician (dropped out, tried to come back, struggled with depression/PTSD/substance abuse for several years). Eventually, I found my way to health (combination of psychotherapy, supportive friends/family, I’m now a doctoral candidate and yoga teacher), in many ways in spite of the community response to the assault. While I’m not suggesting that the assault was causal to all of the events that followed, I often wonder how my life path would be different if the response had been different. I am so grateful for where I am now, but often wish that the university community had been able to offer a different response back then. I was touched to read the work of the student activists and university community to bring the center to BU and just wanted to express my gratitude.

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