President Morton Schapiro's announcement of the creation of the Center for Awareness, Response and Education Monday aligned with Sexual Assault Awareness Month events on campus.
The new office, CARE, is a result of two years of work by the Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence, which worked to secure a three-year federal grant in 2011 to fund the new position of coordinator of sexual violence response services and advocacy, and the centralized office of CARE.
Laura Anne Stuart, a coalition member and the coordinator of sexual health education and violence prevention at CARE, said the coalition studied other universities’ models of centralizing resources for students who were survivors of sexual assault.
“Before we put CARE together, there actually were a lot of options available for students but they would have had to, in order to take advantage of all of them, call five different offices,” Stuart said.
CARE does not provide counseling, but can act as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and refer them to existing resources like CAPS or The Women’s Center according to students’ needs. Over the next few years, Stuart said CARE hopes to secure permanent funding from the university and to increase the number of students seeking and taking advantage of services.
The creation of positions at CARE was a natural continuation of the “key partnerships” already made among student groups and organizations like University Police and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, according to Renee Redd, a coalition member and director of Northwestern’s Women’s Center.
“Northwestern has been proactive about increasing resources through the work of people like Laura [Anne Stewart],” Redd said. “You really do need key personnel whose only job is focusing on issues like these.”
Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault's White Ribbon Campaign, which will ask men to sign a promise against sexual assault on Wednesday, and College Feminists's Take Back the Night rally on Thursday, which includes a march throughout campus and a survivor speak-out in Dittmar Gallery, are among sexual assault awareness events supported by student groups this month.
“We are kind of piggy-backing on the Take Back the Night events that students organized to advertise about CARE,” Stuart said. “Because in my experience, this week of events can either lead a lot of students to realize perhaps that something that happened to them was sexual assault or they might tell their story for the first time. We really wanted to let people know there is this new place you can go.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this story mistakenly referred to SHAPE as the organizers of Take Back the Night. NBN regrets the error.