Associated Students Beat Reporter
Associated Students Senate passed a resolution entitled “A Resolution in Support of the Implementation of the Violence Intervention and Prevention [VIP] Program” on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
The program, which is copied from the one started at University of California, Irvine, would create a class for students to become peer advisors for sexual assault and violence in their campus organizations.
Off-Campus Senator Kyley Scarlet, who authored the resolution, believes this in an important program to implement in the university, especially within the Greek system.
“Sexual assault is the third highest crime that IV Foot Patrol has to deal with on our campus and, therefore, it is really important for us to stand in support of survivors,” said Scarlet.
The resolution states that “UCSB is a leading research institution in the United States, and therefore should be at the forefront in addressing and discussing issues of sexual violence,” and that this program will “give UCSB students the opportunity to develop a consciousness regarding sexual violence issues that carries a sense of action that can permeate throughout society.”
In addition, the resolution includes many statistics regarding domestic and sexual abuse and assault in college and other communities.
The authors, Scarlet and University Owned Housing Senator Miya Sommers, believe focusing on the Greek system is the best way to begin implementing this program.
“We’re starting with the Greek population because UCSB has a very large Greek population, they make up a significant part of this school,” said Sommers. “By empowering these students and giving them the tools, they can become change-makers within the community. They can do things, we just have to set up the method and support and that’s where the VIP program will have someone who is safe-zone trained, who also…can be both an advocate and also a safe space for people to come and talk to and if they are survivors.”
However, the class is open to students not involved in the Greek system too, so other groups can also benefit from the program.
“Technically we can’t limit it to the Greek system, so it’s going to be mainly advertised to the Greek system since we have a lot of positions within those houses that deal this kind of stuff,” said Scarlet. “We also have Greek resource liaison programs that we’re going to outreach to and then from there we want it to go into different groups so technically it’s going to be a class open to everyone.”
Two student sponsors, Danielle Bermudez and Annie Alexandrian, sent an email voicing their support.
“As someone who has loved ones who has experienced sexual assault and as someone who cares deeply about the protection of people’s dignity, this program will allow students to have a peer in their organizations who they can talk to because they know they are aware of the resources that support survivors of sexual assault,” the email states. “A care-based program that addresses sexual assault is truly needed on our campus and it has already been proven at UCI that a majority of students who seek support from peers…are referred to the VIP Chair.”
Many groups on campus are in support of this program, including the AS Commissioner of Public Health and Safety in the UCSB Office of the President, AS Take Back the Night, and Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (CARE).
“UCSB supports the implementation of the Violence Intervention and Prevention Program in order to positively change our campus culture and climate for the better,” the resolution concludes. “Through this, we promise to continue to support survivors of violence and to help end all forms of violence altogether through education, outreach, prevention efforts, and activism as a part of the VIP program.”