An on-campus sexual assault counseling service at Harvard University will close for the month of July for financial reasons, causing concern among summer proctors at the school, the Harvard Crimson reports.
The Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, which was established in 2003, gives students confidential support, information, and referrals to survivors of sexual violence, according to its website. The service also handles harassment and other confidential cases, Christopher Queen, dean of Harvard Summer School, said. But because of ongoing economic stress, highlighted by today's announcement of 275 layoffs at the school, Harvard's summer students will have to go elsewhere for any of these services.
"It's a shame," said Queen, who estimated that more than 2,000 students will live on campus during Harvard's summer session. "That's a real shame because we rely on them in the summer. Obviously, [the students] will have other resources, but the loss of that program over this summer was a disappointment to us."
University Health Services Director David Rosenthal said he wasn't sure how much the university will save by closing the office, and the fate of the office's 24-hour hotline was still unclear. All calls to the center will be forwarded to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and University Mental Health Services and the Harvard University Police Department will handle all on-campus responsibilities that OASPR would normally handle.
"Perhaps the resources will be sufficient, but I do think it's the college's responsibility to provide sexual assault response resources, and I don't think that should be outsourced," one summer proctor said.
OASPR's director, Sarah Rankin, said that she understood the reasoning behind the decision, but she added that the office has never had a summer when no one used it. According to a fact sheet on OASPR's website, an estimated 84 students used the office during the 2007-2008 academic year, and Harvard police reported 60 "forcible sexual offenses" from 2004 to 2006.