The allegations are reaching nearly every corner of America—politics, entertainment, judicial, business and journalism. Accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination are opening up a nationwide discussion focused on finally ending the cycle of violence.
Augustana started addressing the cultural problem long before the headlines appeared.
Seven years ago, Dr. S.A. Fenwick (now professor emerita of psychology) and Debi Butler ’11 introduced the first victim advocacy course at Augustana through a partnership with SafePath Survivor Resources of Family Resources. SafePath’s mission is to use education, counseling, prevention and advocacy to end sexual violence in the community.
The intensive 64 hours of classroom training focuses on the social and cultural issues surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence. Each student then volunteers an additional 16 hours through a SafePath program. Opportunities might include working at a domestic violence shelter, manning the crisis line, or serving as a medical advocate for a survivor. Offered twice a year, the class is considered ‘one of the best’ by students and often opens a pathway to their future career.
“This is a beautiful community relationship. They provide a huge service by training up our students and then offering them a way to help in the larger community.”
Dr. Jessica Schultz, associate professor of psychology at Augustana, sees wide-reaching value in this community partnership and the resources it offers students.
“This is a beautiful community relationship,” she said. “They provide a huge service by training up our students and then offering them a way to help in the larger community.
“The class offers a very holistic viewpoint and is an eye-opening experience for most students. At least half go into the class and don’t realize the pervasiveness or severity of the problem. After completing the course, they can recognize and critically analyze the issue,” Dr. Schultz said.
Emilee Goad ’11 remembers sitting in the first class in 2010, and the lasting impact it made. “It definitely lit that fire. It opened my eyes. …You are angry about what you learn but it gives you a space to talk about it,” she said.
Goad now works at Family Resources in the Quad Cities as a campus coordinator. In this role she helps Augustana and other Illinois schools improve their education about and response to Title IX.
Mallory Cook ’19 took the victim advocacy class to get a more diverse look at the opportunities for a psychology major, and finished with a better understanding of how she could help in the Quad Cities. Now she is looking forward to using her new skills at Camp Kesem, a camp for children who have parents battling cancer.
“I think it showed me the different sides… that I didn’t see were there,” said Cook. “This is a great opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the Quad Cities. Life isn’t always perfect, but it’s great to see there are resources here to make it better.”