Our History

The Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP) was established in 2012, with Maureen Mahoney,BU’s long-serving crisis counselor, as the founding Director. Located at 930 Commonwealth Avenue, the office initially included a director, two crisis counselors, a violence preventionist, and an administrative coordinator. SARP has since added additional crisis counselors and graduate student educators, expanding its reach.

The development of SARP was spurred by student activism and a recommendation from a task force convened by President Robert A. Brown. In late 2011 and early 2012, sexual assault charges were brought against two BU men’s hockey team players. In response, President Brown convened the Men’s Ice Hockey Task Force, which investigated the culture and structure of the men’s hockey team specifically and BU generally. The subsequent report produced by the Task Force made multiple recommendations, including “The University should establish an office that provides care and counseling for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, as well as programs for sexual assault prevention training and sexual and reproductive health education.”

Simultaneously, student activists were organizing and demanding more comprehensive services for the prevention of and response to sexual violence on campus. Leaders from the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism (CGSA), including Ariana Katz, Sasha Goodfriend, and Chelsea Schwalm, organized a petition signed by over 1,200 people calling for the creation of a rape crisis center on campus. This work was partly inspired by an assignment for their Feminist and Queer Theories and Activism Class, taught by Professor Carrie Preston. This group conducted substantial research on similar centers across the US higher education landscape and interviewed BU stakeholders. Like the Men’s Ice Hockey Task Force report, the CGSA report recommended creating a sexual violence prevention and response center.

In 2012, President Brown announced the creation of SARP. Since its founding, SARP has served thousands of survivors with crisis response and counseling. Additionally, SARP facilitators have trained thousands of students to prevent interpersonal violence. This training program originally began by offering Step Up Step In BU, a bystander intervention training based on the evidence-based program Bringing in the Bystander. Subsequently, SARP has expanded its offerings to include trainings on consent and sex-positivity, healthy relationships, and sexual harassment. 

SARP continues to be a mission-driven department intent on preventing interpersonal violence and compassionately responding to trauma survivors. Read more about our mission and services here.