Campus Sexual Assault Response TeamNew Jersey
The Montclair State University (MSU) Sexual Assault Response Team is an on-campus comprehensive service for the campus community. Modeled after the New Jersey State Standards for Survivors of Sexual Assault, initial response members consist of MSU Health Center forensic nurses, university police, and community rape care advocates. Additional support is provided by the university's Departments of Residence Life and Counseling Services and the Dean of Students. These response services are enhanced by ongoing educational/outreach programs and specialized, ongoing training for team members and "first contacts" for victims.
The overall goals of this initiative are to
- Reduce the incidence of sexual assault through educational and outreach efforts.
- Increase the reporting of incidents of sexual assault by improving access to services.
- Provide comprehensive, victim-centered care directly on campus.
- Increase offender accountability by enforcing criminal, civil, and campus judicial board actions.
Making the Idea a Reality
MSU SART was created in 2001 in response to inadequate response services on campus and in the local community. At the time, statewide SART services had not been initiated within the local county area, and the university's response consisted of crisis intervention by campus counseling services and advocacy referral. A joint initiative was begun between the MSU Health Center Director and the Chief of University Police to develop a victim-centered comprehensive system for response with a focus on the following:
- Providing forensic examiner training to health center nurses and nurse practitioners.
- Offering specialized training in sexual assault response for all university police officers.
- Collaborating with two county rape crisis centers to establish response protocols for campus victims.
- Developing a formal protocol to facilitate a coordinated, 24/7 victim service.
- Providing victim-centered services, including the option of anonymous reporting.
As with any new initiative, funds available to support MSU SART were minimal. The Health Center obtained a U.S. Department of Justice grant from the Office on Violence Against Women to purchase forensic equipment, provide specialized training for response team members, and create new educational outreach programs.
- Campus victims reported sexual assaults in a very nontraditional manner. They entered the system "through the backdoor" by telling a peer leader or requesting a screening for sexually transmitted infections or emergency contraception. To increase access to services, those individuals viewed as a victim's "first contact" (e.g., student leaders, Student Affairs staff) received sexual assault training. MSU SART visibility was increased by marketing efforts throughout the campus community. Currently, most students who report do so with assistance from a trained first contact.
- Many students declined outside advocacy services and failed to receive support as a survivor. A simultaneous response by campus counseling services was integrated into the response process. Victims have been most responsive to this ongoing support mechanism.
- A coordinated response among all campus departments that may assist victims was necessary to provide a "best practice" response and to evaluate and improve services. The Director of the Health Center and the Chief of University Police serve as coadministrators and oversee all incidents using a case management approach to meet victim needs.
The overall response service including victim options is depicted in the diagram below:
Montclair State University Sexual Assault Response Team
Donna M. Barry, Director, University Health Center
Montclair, NJ 07043