New SAAP coordinator announced
By Conrad Scoville, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, August 13, 2010
Kristin Baxivanos, a member of Yale University’s Class of 2010, was named interim coordinator for the Sexual Abuse Awareness Program, according to a Thursday e-mail from Department of Health Promotion director Bryant Ford to members of Mentors Against Violence. Baxivanos — who will assume her position on Aug. 16 — said she will use student input to better understand the campus culture and further develop SAAP’s priorities.
Baxivanos was chosen after a search process that involved discussions with 25 students, administrators and health professionals, she said.
“I came into the hiring process quite late in — I believe it was July,” she said. “I had some great conversations with [Ford] and then was invited to interview.”
The position has been vacant since the beginning of Summer term, Baxivanos said. Hired in an interim capacity, Baxivanos will remain coordinator for at least the next year, she said.
SAAP, which falls under the joint direction of the College’s Center for Women and Gender and the Health Resources Department of the College Health Service, works towards several distinct purposes, according to the group’s website — including supporting and advocating for victims of sexual abuse, advising MAVs and Sexual Abuse Peer Advisors, and informing the campus with presentations and other programming.
Although Baxivanos does not have any official experience in an administrative role, she said she has previously served as a link between students and administrators.
While a student at Yale, Baxivanos majored in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She also helped develop the University’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Resource and Education Center, according to the e-mail.
“For the last four years we’ve been working to connect student concerns and administrative resources,” she said.
Although Baxivanos said she expected “some hesitancy” regarding her youth when interviewing for the position, she said her age may be an asset for her ability to work with students.
“Students will benefit from having an administrator that is very close to their experiences,” Baxivanos said.
Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault co-chair Alicia Driscoll ’11 said Baxivanos will benefit from her experience at Yale in her new role at the College.
“I’m excited that they’ve found a new SAAP coordinator so quickly,” she said. “I think she’ll be a great addition to the school.”
Like all organizations in transition, SAAP has faced some difficulties, according to Baxivanos.
“We’re definitely in a time of flux — there are some very critical vacancies right now and I think that makes everyone have to work a little bit harder,” she said, adding that former SAAP coordinator Michelle de Sousa’s departure “was and is very tough for the College.”
Baxivanos said she is “encouraged” by current administrative initiatives such as the SPCSA. She added that College President Jim Yong Kim has made it clear he is willing to promote efforts to address sexual assault on campus.
“I think the upper echelons of our administration are really dedicated this year and beyond to the issue of sexual abuse,” she said. “I’m really excited to contribute positively to that effort.”
Baxivanos said she will work closely with other student groups that share SAAP’s mission.
“Sex doesn’t happen in a vacuum and you can’t think of education or intervention strategies without considering other groups on campus,” she said.
SAAP must create a forum in which students can engage in an open dialogue about sex, Baxivanos said.
“My priority is to be able to create space for students to think critically about the sex culture at Dartmouth and what they would like that culture to look like,” she said.
Baxivanos added that upon arriving on campus, she will need to work with students to evaluate what issues SAAP should focus on under her direction.
“I haven’t yet oriented myself with campus or with the students,” she said. “The more I speak with students the more I will understand the challenges.”