California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Susan Davis are sending forth IMPORTANT legislation titled (The Survivor Outreach & Support Campus Act or SOS Campus Act – click here to see the document on HuffingtonPost.com) for supporting survivors on college campuses. They are following the path that has helped many more survivors come forward in the military – providing advocates who are free from the pressures of leadership and/or administration.
Anytime you have a person providing support to a survivor who can be impacted professionally by the institution the survivor is attending, you have a conflict of interest. That conflict of interest can lead to an advocate not giving the same level of support that an advocate with no ties to the institution would provide.
Due to victim-blaming that often exists in our culture, seeking support and/or justice can be a difficult decision for many survivors. Creating an atmosphere where a student will feel completely supported is critically important. This legislation is working to accomplish that goal.
For those who will only focus only on the following component in the legislation (as quoted in TheHuffingtonPost),
“Wherever a conflict exists between the university’s interest and the victim’s interest,” a one-pager on the bill explains, “the advocate must side with the victim.”
This is the exact approach needed. If you are thinking, “What if the advocate wants to question an aspect of what the survivor is sharing?“, then the advocate should not be an advocate. An advocate is to be 100% supportive.
Survivors already face people who question the validity to what they report. The last person you need doing that is an advocate. If a case does come forward, professionals in other roles are responsible for investigating – NOT an advocate.
Here at The DATE SAFE Project, we support this legislation being voted through and signed by President Obama.
How do YOU feel this legislation could help survivors on college campuses? Please SHARE in the “Comments” section below.