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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Advocating for survivors of interpersonal violence

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Collegian | Chloe Leline

(Graphic illustration by Chloe Leline | The Collegian)

Piper Russell, News Editor

Colorado State University has many sexual assault and relationship violence resources. The Women and Gender Advocacy Center is one that provides programs and resources to help sexual assault survivors and educate members of the CSU community.

WGAC Interim Director Casey Malsam said the WGAC’s services are always free of charge. The WGAC provides “information about academic, legal, medical, emotional and student conduct resources to survivors” of interpersonal violence as well as secondary survivors, according to its website.

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“We listen to what a student is saying are some of their needs and then try to figure out the totality and what resources might be useful to them,” Malsam said.

The WGAC’s website explains its resources, which include the 24-hour Victim Assistance Team — a hotline that is always available to assist survivors and their loved ones.

Survivors can also call the WGAC and ask to speak with an advocate or use the chat feature on the website, which is operational while classes are in session, from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The WGAC also has peer educators and professionals who provide education and programming.

“Sometimes it’s hard navigating systems that you don’t navigate on a daily basis, and our advocates do. So it can be really helpful to have an advocate along as you’re navigating a system that’s unfamiliar to you.” –Casey Malsam, Women and Gender Advocacy Center interim director

According to the WGAC’s website, “information shared with advocates is confidential unless the person is a danger to themselves, someone is in imminent danger, a child currently under 18 has been abused or if the perpetrator is currently in a position of power over minors (even if the survivor is over the age of 18).”

“Advocates can talk through the pros and cons of different decisions; they can help a student make the decision that’s going to be right for them,” Malsam said. “We try to be pretty neutral … because it’s not about what the advocate thinks is best, it’s about what the student thinks is best, and they just need some help and guidance in choosing what’s going to be best for them in their particular situation.”

In addition to resources that support survivors of interpersonal violence, the WGAC focuses on education. According to the WGAC’s website, its educational programming includes education on topics of interpersonal violence and survivor voice as well as gender and social justice.

Some of the WGAC’s educational programs include social media and a podcast. The WGAC also has the Red Whistle Brigade, which is a peer education team that does presentations on topics such as understanding consent, healthy relationships and setting boundaries, Malsam said. Another program that raises awareness is the Survivors’ Speakers Bureau, which provides survivors with an opportunity to tell their stories.

Malsam also spoke about how the WGAC has helped survivors and how the number of people they’ve served has continued to increase over past years. Malsam said the WGAC has served over 500 students who have experienced interpersonal violence. 

“Every year our numbers go up in terms of students who utilize our services,” Malsam said. “Sometimes it’s hard navigating systems that you don’t navigate on a daily basis, and our advocates do. So it can be really helpful to have an advocate along as you’re navigating a system that’s unfamiliar to you.”

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In order to get involved, students can sign up for the WGAC’s newsletter, volunteer in the office and follow the center on social media.

In addition to the WGAC, the CSU Health Network also offers counseling services and has women’s and gender care.

Reach Piper Russell at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PiperRussell10. 

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About the Writer
Photo of Piper Russell
Piper Russell, News Editor

Piper Russell is one of The Collegian’s news editors this year and is thrilled to be working in the role. She started as a news reporter her sophomore...

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