In an age of expanding knowledge about sexual violence on college campuses, it is important that administrations do what they can both to prevent more violence and provide resources for survivors. Ramapo College is making big steps in acknowledging what happens and showing their efforts to make the campus safer.
On Feb. 7, Ramapo cut the ribbon at their new satellite office for HealingSPACE, a safe space for survivors in Bergen County and now at Ramapo.
HealingSPACE is a resource of YWCA Northern New Jersey which provides resources for survivors, including counseling, a 24/7 hotline and aids for survivors in legal and medical processes.
Ramapo has been a space for survivors for decades, as President Mercer said at the ribbon cutting.
“There was time in our history, on the heels of the civil rights and student movements, when our Women’s Center served as a de-facto sexual violence resource center for Bergen County,” he said. “In the mid-1970’s, before local and state agencies dedicated to addressing sexual violence existed, the Women’s Center served survivors from across the county.”
New Jersey is now dedicating themselves to these issues, as this satellite office was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Attorney General which totaled $336,000. HealingSPACE is the main project this grant is funding so that students have a safe and accessible space.
“This is such a powerful resource for the Ramapo College community,” said Helen Archontu, the CEO of YWCA Northern New Jersey. “It serves as a model for something that should be present statewide on college campuses.”
Ramapo is not only promoting this space to help survivors, but to educate the rest of the school about how prevalent assault is. They recently posted on the main Ramapo College Instagram story that in a 2016 “It’s On Us” campus climate survey, 14 percent of Ramapo students had experienced sexual violence since becoming a student.
The numbers are not much better nationwide, which is why these spaces and education are so important.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, reported that 11.2 percent of students in higher education experience sexual violence, as found in a 2014 Department of Justice report.
However, it is the goal of these resources to push these numbers down and to give those who do experience it the resources to report if they choose and heal.
“Our highest priority is to provide an environment that is safe for all students to live and learn,” said Mercer. “We strive to educate against sexual violence and provide a supportive environment to survivors.”
The HealingSPACE office, located in the Lodge of the College Park Apartments, will be available to students for appointments with confidential counselors. Students can call the HealingSPACE Hotline at (201)487-2227 and say they are a Ramapo student to schedule.
Outside HealingSPACE, Ramapo offers several other resources both confidential and non-confidential through the office of violence prevention for students with experiences of sexual violence, harassment or stalking.
“This new HealingSPACE office will increase the availability of clinical services for survivors on campus, in addition to the services available in the Center for Health and Counseling Services,” said President Mercer.