SAPA Director Prescott to leave Dartmouth
By Luke Mann O'halloran, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, June 29, 2007
Leah Prescott, Dartmouth's Sexual Abuse Awareness Program coordinator, will leave the College in September. Prescott cited her desire to spend more time with her ailing mother and her plans to enter a Master of Divinity program in the fall of 2008.
"I'm going to go do God's work full time instead of on the side," she said.
Prescott's main responsibility at the College is directing the Sexual Abuse Peer Advisor program, which trains students to help peers who have been affected by sexual assault. She also oversees other counseling efforts, works to educate students and staff on relationship violence and advocates for students she sees as being marginalized.
"My role on campus has been one to name and notice oppression," she said.
Of her accomplishments over the past two years, Prescott takes particular pride in having widened the discussion of sexual abuse to include marginalized groups on campus.
"The discussions are happening in areas where they may not have been happening as frequently before," she said. "I've heard people say, 'You're going there? You've never been there before.'"
Prescott also implemented the use of an intake form, to be filled out by SAPAs upon encountering a victim of assault. The form was intended to provide the Sexual Abuse Awareness Program with anonymous data on assaults, such as the demographic information on the victim and alleged perpetrator and the time and location of the assault.
Some SAPAs resisted the use of this form, as it marked a departure from the practice of Prescott's predecessor, Abby Tassel. Tassel's resignation was surrounded by controversy; she claimed she was forced to resign by an administration unresponsive to the needs of the SAAP program, and students praised her for her commitment to the program and devotion to the community.
"I think arriving at Dartmouth given my predecessor's departure had its challenges," Prescott said. "She had a lot of students who loved her and loved her work. Some of the challenges have lingered on for the past two years."
In her interview with The Dartmouth, Prescott explained that the her relationship with the administration did not influence her decision to leave.
"My colleagues -- President Wright, the provosts, the deans and student leaders -- have all been eager and willing not just to support me in starting here but have been excited about supporting the SAAP program," she said.
Jarrell Mitchell '09, who worked with Prescott as a SAPA, was appreciative of her efforts to combat sexual assault.
"I think that Leah always gave 100 percent in doing her job and supporting the Dartmouth community. In times of crisis or when issues arose on campus students knew that she was definitely an ally and was going to be responsive to their issues," he said.
Mitchell went on to praise her concern for the well being of Dartmouth students.
"She was passionate about her position here at Dartmouth and making Dartmouth a safe and positive learning community for all students," he said.
In leaving Dartmouth, Prescott said she'd miss New Hampshire, her friends and colleagues and Dartmouth students.
"I have appreciated [students'] warmth and compassion and your willingness to take care of each other," she said.
Prescott also wanted students to know why she is leaving.
"I hope that at the end of the day, students and my colleagues see a person leaving to pursue my passion," she said.