Interviews to find new SAAP leader end
By Marielle Battistoni, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Four candidates for the vacant position of Sexual Assault Awareness Program Coordinator concluded their on-campus interviews Monday with a final presentation to Dartmouth students. The Center for Women and Gender, which initiated the search, hopes that a decision can be reached soon and an offer accepted this summer, according to CWG Director Xenia Markowitt.
The new coordinator will be responsible for sexual assault awareness education programming on campus, training Sexual Assault Peer Advisors and responding to the needs of students that have been victims of assault, said Sylvia Spears, director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, which oversees the Center for Women and Gender.
Although the CWG's goal is to select an applicant from this pool, if a joint decision with Dartmouth Health Resources cannot be reached, a second round of candidates will be brought to campus, Markowitt said.
The candidates represent a variety of occupational backgrounds, Markowitt said, including community-based shelters, social justice programs and residential education.
"We've had M.D.s apply, Ph.D's apply -- the applicant pool really draws from a huge spectrum of people," Markowitt said.
None of the four candidates are employed by an Ivy League institution and all are from the New England area, she said. Both OPAL and the Center for Women and Gender declined to give out the names or affiliations of the candidates.
A search committee in the fall failed to yield a strong applicant pool, forcing the Center to push back the selection of a permanent coordinator until the spring, Markowitt said.
"We're looking for skilled and experienced folks," Spears said.
Between 20 and 30 Dartmouth staff members met with the candidates on campus and then gave feedback to the Center on the candidates's relative strengths and weaknesses, Markowitt said. Two presentations were also given by each candidate -- one for colleagues and one for students, she said. Markowitt added that the presentations for students were poorly attended and pointed to time conflicts as a possible explanation for low student turnout.
"They were not as successful as we had hoped," she said.
The position, held by Leah Prescott from September 2005 until September 2007, is currently held on an interim basis by Safety and Security crime prevention specialist Rebel Roberts.
Roberts took on the position in addition to her role as an officer at Safety and Security and as an instructor in the Rape Aggression and Defense Program, positions she has held for over a decade.
She plans to remain involved in the SAAP program even after a new coordinator is selected, to help ease the transition, she said.
"I still hope to offer myself as a resource to students," Roberts said.
According to Roberts, she has seen a number of successes during her tenure as interim coordinator, citing this term's large Sexual Assault Peer Advisors trainee class and the Clothesline Project Display, where tee-shirts honoring victims of sexual assault were hung in Collis Center. She was also enthusiastic about further SAAP programming in honor of national Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Markowitt noted that sexual assault is an important issue for everyone on campus.
"It's not just a public health issue, it's a women's issue, and more broadly, it's a social and political issue," she said. "It's about systems of oppression and violence."