WGAC: Annual Report 2021-22
At the Women and Gender Advocacy Center (WGAC), we strive to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students, focusing on gender and intersectionality. As confidential advocates, we support survivors of interpersonal violence, providing education and resources while advocating for individual and systemic change.
Our programs, including the Red Whistle Brigade, the 24-hour Victim Assistance Team (VAT), the Survivor's Speakers Bureau and our advocacy and prevention education podcasts, contribute to our mission of empowerment, healing and social justice. We look forward to continuing our work and fostering a campus community that supports survivors and promotes their well-being.
Despite facing various challenges, WGAC has been actively working to overcome them and provide support to the CSU community.
One ongoing issue is the absence of meaningful peer-led consent education for incoming students, which will mark the third consecutive year without this crucial component during Ram Orientation. WGAC has also been facing three vacancies in programming, resulting in a redirection of staff efforts towards supporting advocacy and the unfortunate cancellation of most spring programming.
Student perceptions of the University's response to interpersonal violence (IPV) have raised concerns. Incidents of vandalism, where approximately a dozen VAT posters were vandalized in bathrooms, have amplified worries among students about reporting and the University's perceived lack of action. Additionally, the DoBetterCSU Instagram account has shed light on reports from survivors who feel unsupported by Title IX.
Further feedback regarding Title IX reveals the absence of formal hearings since before August 2020, causing confusion and frustration among students. Students have expressed difficulties reaching the Title IX physical office, with unanswered phones and closures during business hours. In one week alone, three survivors visited the physical office and two others contacted the main phone line without reaching anyone from Title IX.
Another challenge arises from advocates no longer being copied on progress updates from Title IX, making it harder to track case progress and engage with survivors. This change has required survivors to explicitly request that advocates be copied, but many students are unaware of this option. Previously, advocates were automatically copied on communications, enabling them to provide support, monitor milestones and proactively reach out to survivors at crucial stages, aiding in retention.
Furthermore, confidential victim advocacy is no longer listed as a default resource on all form letters to impacted parties from Title IX. Instead, survivors have received form letters offering the Counseling Center as a resource for "navigating the Title IX process," overlooking the fact that advocates are exceptionally skilled in supporting individuals navigating the reporting process.
Significant delays persist between intake and adjudication, with one case remaining open for over 500 days, leading both students involved to leave CSU before resolution. Additionally, a case spent 147 days in Title IX while the student underwent the entire criminal legal system, from report to guilty verdict, highlighting delays in the initial investigation process at CSU.
Despite these challenges, WGAC remains committed to its mission of providing support, advocating for survivors and creating a safe and inclusive environment. The center strives to address systemic barriers and ameliorate oppression that may hinder survivors from accessing resources effectively.
Forecast for the Future
As a Center, WGAC is committed to engaging in work that focuses on gender and intersectionality. We believe that it is the role and responsibility of our office to cultivate a safe and inclusive environment for all students that supports their development and retention.
When advocating for survivors of interpersonal violence, we view ourselves as a supportive and confidential resource. It is our role and responsibility to focus on the needs of the survivor in any given moment. We educate about resources available on and off campus and facilitate the connection to the resources chosen by the survivor. We advocate both for individual survivors and for all survivors on a systemic level. We acknowledge that survivors’ social identities will impact their experience of the assault, disclosure and engagement with offices, departments and systems. Our goal is to work to ameliorate systemic oppression that may create additional barriers for survivors accessing resources.
2021-22 WGAC Programs
The Red Whistle Brigade is a troupe of students responsible for providing educational programming in the areas of gender socialization, sexual violence prevention, healthy relationships, sexual health and more. Members educate peers using methods including traditional facilitation, film screenings, flash mobs, photo booths, plaza days and street theater.
WGAC relies heavily on volunteer advocates to staff the 24-hour hotline, particularly after hours and weekends. Volunteer advocates are students, staff and faculty who complete a 40-hour training class and interview process. After-hours advocacy often includes accompanying survivors to the hospital/police. Volunteer advocates then get survivors connected to a full time advocate the next business day.
One important part of healing and activism for many survivors of interpersonal violence is to tell their stories to others. Primary and secondary survivors (loved ones, friends and family) are welcome to participate in the Speakers Bureau. Survivors complete a three-hour orientation, and then speak for classes, programs and conferences arranged through WGAC.
“We Believe You: Advocacy, resources and Healing Around Interpersonal Trauma”
In each episode, the WGAC advocacy team explores the concepts and practices associated with healing after trauma. Episodes also share tips, strategies and resources around sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. A key focus is exploration of ways that identity can impact healing.
“Do You Even Lift, Bro? Men Exercising Social Justice”
Let’s be real. Men need to bring up their social justice game, and we believe there are men out there who want to but don’t know how. This podcast allows for men to open, share and for a lot of self-reflection.