A New Rape Crisis Center, Open to All

From left: Sam Daniels '16, Ava Blustein '15, Victoria Jonas '15 and Sheila McMahon.
Julian Cardillo
From left: Sam Daniels '16, Ava Blustein '15, Victoria Jonas '15 and Sheila McMahon.

Capping months of discussion, planning and hard work by students and staff, a new Rape Crisis Center is offering survivors of sexual violence a dedicated resource for information and support on campus.

“We have opened a space where all Brandeis students can find support and recognition of their needs concerning sexual violence,” says Sheila McMahon, sexual-assault services and prevention specialist at Brandeis.

Located in Usdan Student Center, the crisis center, which opened in March, includes counseling rooms for individual appointments and group discussions, as well as a lending/reading library.

McMahon, sexual-assault prevention specialist Rani Neutill, and the Psychological Counseling Center’s staff psychologist Kristin Huang provide crisis-response services to sexual-assault survivors. They also oversee 12 peer advocates who offer visitors additional resources and support.

“I hope everyone gets to know our advocates and this center,” says Victoria Jonas ’15, marketing and outreach coordinator. “These services shouldn’t be kept in the dark. People should know that our services are accessible to everyone.”

The center’s opening is the latest in a series of enhancements Brandeis has made to its sexual-assault services and prevention programs. The university recently recruited Rebecca Tillar, a lawyer who was formerly a lead investigator/judge advocate for the Army National Guard, as its Title IX investigator and compliance officer.

In addition, Brandeis has created a conduct process for sexual assault and harassment that uses a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard and employs a special examiner. The university has also expanded bystander training for staff, faculty and students.