YWCA opens on-campus location for confidential sexual assault resources

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YWCA @ Stanford (YWCA), a YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley program, is a nonprofit organization committed to empowering women that opened a location on Stanford’s campus this past winter quarter and will provide advocacy services to sexual assault survivors. Student activists have advocated for YWCA services at the University over the past two years and hope the YWCA will be able to provide resources student survivors trust. 

The location opened in September, but became fully operational winter quarter. Due to the pandemic, all services are currently virtual. Among the offices providing confidential resources available to students, YWCA is the only one that is not operated by the University, which Golden Gate Silicon Valley’s interim CEO Adriana Caldera Boroffice views as an asset. 

“I think there was some value in bringing in a third party to the campus that has the perception of being neutral,” Boroffice said.

Student advocates say that the separation from the University will improve survivor trust, after a 2019 survey revealed low confidence in University survivor resources. YWCA’s status as a third-party organization contributed to advocates’ interest in bringing the group on campus. 

“I’d say an overall trend is greater contentment in survivor resources that are not tied to the University,” said ASSU co-director of sexual violence prevention Julia Paris ’21. “There’s more likely to be trust there when they aren’t getting paid by the same people doing your investigation.”

According to Boroffice, when students receive services from YWCA, they interact with staffers who have completed 65 hours of state-mandated training plus 12 additional hours added by YWCA. 

Throughout the years, advocates including ASSU co-director of sexual violence prevention Maia Brockbank ’21 have expressed concerns about the level of training Stanford employees receive to prepare them to help survivors navigate complex procedures. 

“To be honest, there are very few people within the Stanford and ancillary offices that are well-versed in the relevant procedures,” said Brockbank.

Ellie Utter, YWCA survivor advocacy coordinator at Stanford, wants to prioritize listening and responding to students in her new role. 

“We really want to focus on accessibility of our office and centering survivors on campus and ensuring that our resources are meeting those needs,” said Utter. “More than anything, we’re grateful for student activists and advocates on campus that have been sharing feedback with us.”

YWCA’s Stanford services include: helping students navigate both criminal justice processes and the Stanford-specific SHARE/Title IX systems; accompanying students to Sexual Assault Forsenic Exams or to obtain restraining orders; and providing counseling, therapy and support groups. 

Students currently can receive support from YWCA at the office’s virtual walk-in hours, which take place on Mondays between 8 a.m.  and 2 p.m., on Thursdays and Fridays between 4 p.m. and 8.p.m and on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Students can also book an appointment by emailing [email protected] or calling the YWCA @ Stanford office number (408) 295-4011 with the extension 3667 during regular business hours. For immediate support, the YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley Support Line can be reached at (800) 572-2782.

This article and its headline have been updated to reflect that YWCA @ Stanford is a program of YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley, not the national YWCA organization. It has also been corrected to reflect that quotes originally attributed to YWCA communications manager Trish Carter are from YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley’s interim CEO Adriana Caldera Boroffice. Additionally, it has been updated to include the extension for the YWCA @ Stanford phone number. The Daily regrets these errors.

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