WGAC educates, provides support concerning interpersonal violence

Students+sit+outside+the+Women+and+Gender+Advocacy+Center+March+23+The+WGAC+offers+support+to+survivors+of+relationship+violence.

Collegian | Luke Bourland

Students sit outside the Women and Gender Advocacy Center March 23. The WGAC offers support to survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence.

Sam Medley

Samy Gentle, Staff Reporter

The Women and Gender Advocacy Center at Colorado State University is the result of more than 50 years of “evolution of the student and academic affairs structures,” according to the WGAC website, starting out as the Office of Women’s Relations in 1970. 

Today, the WGAC provides students with “support through safety planning, housing accommodations, academic support, coping skills, basic needs access and more,” said Victoria Benjamin, interim assistant director for victim services. 

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“The WGAC exists to support survivors of interpersonal violence as well as offer education around (intimate partner violence), consent, healthy relationships and more,” Benjamin wrote in an email to The Collegian. “Our 24/7 hotline is one of the oldest campus-based hotlines in the country.”

“Our office can be a place to find others and create some safety.” –Casey Malsam, WGAC interim director

“WGAC provides advocacy and support for victims of sexual violence, stalking, sexual harassment and relationship violence,” Benjamin wrote. “Our purpose is to provide a safe and affirming space for the students we serve at Colorado State University while supporting systemic change to end all forms of oppression within our community.”

In addition to providing support to direct survivors of interpersonal violence, the WGAC also offers services for the individuals close to the survivors trying to support them, according to an email from the interim director of the WGAC, Casey Malsam. 

“It is sometimes helpful to think about our office offering three distinct services: advocacy, education and community,” Malsam wrote.

The WGAC’s 24/7 advocacy services are free and confidential for interpersonal violence survivors, Malsam said. Through social media information and interactive learning opportunities for everyone at CSU, the education team works to spread awareness and knowledge. 

The organization’s offices serve the community aspect of their services, “being a place where students can find value and belonging here on campus,” Malsam wrote. “Our office can be a place to find others and create some safety.” 

The WGAC holds regular events throughout the year, especially during October and April, which are National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, respectively, Benjamin said.

“We just had a huge summer of self-care programs where for nine weeks, we explored a different way to take care of yourself — students had a chance to try out paddle boarding, massage, reiki and more through this program,” Malsam wrote. “We have lots of programs in the works for this year and are excited to share them with campus.”

“Students and student organizations can request programs through our website,” Malsam wrote. “We can be pretty flexible with topics, dates and times.” Students can also visit the Student Services offices at 112 Student Services during business hours to talk to an advocate in person or reach advocacy services through the 24-hour hotline at 970-492-4242. 

 The WGAC can also be reached through an online chat function from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Benjamin said.

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Their satellite office is located on the second level of the Lory Student Center, where students can access informational handouts, safe sex devices, resource contact information and more. 

Reach Samy Gentle at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samy_gentle_.