Tuesday, February 18, 2020

MSU Center for Survivors: ‘Our space is for them’

October 10, 2019
<p>A sign supporting survivors sits at the back of the room for the Teal Ribbon Ceremony at the 2019 Teal Ribbon Award and Volunteer Recognition Ceremony at the MSU Union on April 15, 2019.</p>

A sign supporting survivors sits at the back of the room for the Teal Ribbon Ceremony at the 2019 Teal Ribbon Award and Volunteer Recognition Ceremony at the MSU Union on April 15, 2019.

Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

The MSU Center for Survivors, formerly known as the MSU Sexual Assault Program, is going through a rebranding process.

After reaching out to the public for guidance via social media, the new name was decided on. Through a survey, the community was able to provide input about the program’s name change.

In a university press release, Director Tana Fedewa said the original name did not “accurately describe the scope” of the center’s services. 

“We work with survivors of adult sexual assault and adult survivors of child sexual abuse, as well as people who have experienced sexual harassment and sexual exploitation,” Fedewa said in the press release.

Journalism junior Kweku Achenie said she agrees with the reasoning behind the name change.

“I think it’s probably good that they did it just to avoid confusion, especially because I know — for a lot of people here — it’s a really touchy subject,” Achenie said.

Before the name was changed, clients and campus partners spoke about how the name was not inclusive to people who do not describe their experiences as sexual assault. Making the new name more inclusive and accessible was an important part of the rebrand, Fedewa said. 

“We want survivors to know that our space is for them,” she said in the release. “We want survivors to find community where they belong and where they are valued.”

The Center for Survivors provides crisis intervention services, therapy and advocacy services for individuals who have been impacted by rape or sexual assault. 

“I like that they changed the name. It makes you feel a little bit more comfortable going there,”  genomics and molecular genetics junior Haven Robinson said. “I guess for some people it’s a little bit more sensitive.”

During her first semester of college, Robinson was raped and relied on the center for therapy. She was a freshman during Larry Nassar’s sentencing, so she was often being forced to hear about triggering topics.

“Any time I went to class, any time I sat and watched the news, I was having breakdowns and it really sucked,” she said. “I needed someone to talk me through for a couple months and if I didn’t have that, I don’t know. It was my first semester in college, so it was a little different for me. So, yeah, it was life changing.”

She said the center provided her with the opportunity to have a better transition into college after her assault. 

“You’re introduced to more alcohol, more parties, more men, period. And that can be alarming, so it definitely helped talking it through with someone,” she said. 

A 24-hour hotline and crisis chats are services provided by the center. They also provide free and confidential group and individual therapy, advocacy and canine advocacy. There’s also an available survivor emergency fund.

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