Rape Crisis Center offers a safe space for support and information

Students, faculty and staff celebrate opening of new center

Photo/Julian Cardillo

Left to right: Sam Daniels '16, Ava Blustein '15, Victoria Jonas '15 and Sheila McMahon

When the Brandeis community celebrated the opening of the Rape Crisis Center on Tuesday, March 3, the event marked the culmination of several months of discussion, planning and hard work by students and university staff. More important, it meant survivors of sexual violence have a dedicated resource for information and support on campus.
“It’s a powerful moment to come together, with gratitude, for so many people who made this possible,” says Sheila McMahon, the sexual assault services and prevention specialist at Brandeis. “We have opened a space where all Brandeis students can come to have support and recognition of their needs in terms of issues around sexual violence.”
Located in the Usdan Student Center, the center provides a safe space for people to receive support, information and care. The newly renovated space includes counseling rooms for individual appointments and for group discussions. There is also a lending library where visitors can read and checkout books and other resources.
The center is staffed by university employees and students, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. McMahon, Rani Neutill, a sexual assault prevention specialist, and Dr. Kristin Huang, a clinician in the Psychological Counseling Center who has expertise in trauma and sexual violence, will provide crisis response services to sexual assault survivors. They also will oversee the student staff of 12 peer advocates, all of whom will assist in the center by giving visitors additional resources and support.
“Hopefully everyone will get to know our advocates and get to know this center,” says Victoria Jonas ’15, the marketing and outreach coordinator for the center. “These services shouldn’t be in the dark or kept silent. They should be known about in the campus and talked about in the campus. People should know that our services are accessible to everyone.”
The opening of the rape crisis center is the latest in a series of enhancements Brandeis has made to its sexual assault services and prevention programs. It recently recruited Rebecca Tillar, a lawyer and formerly a lead investigator/judge advocate for the Army National Guard, as its Title IX investigator and compliance officer. Brandeis created a conduct process for sexual assault and harassment that uses a preponderance of the evidence standard and employs a special examiner, and it expanded bystander training for staff, faculty and students.

Categories: General, Student Life

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