College hires second SAAP coordinator
By Felicia Schwartz
Published on Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The College will hire two permanent Sexual Abuse Awareness Program coordinators following the reallocation of resources in the College’s 2011-2012 budget to fund the positions, according to Director of Health Services Jack Turco. The increase from one coordinator to two resulted from recommendations put forward by the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault, Turco said.
While the search process for permanent candidates began in December, an official search committee has not yet been formed, Turco said. College officials recently hired two interim SAAP coordinators, including Jessica DeSiato, who assumed the role on Jan. 4, and Kristin Baxivanos, who was appointed on Aug. 13.
The College plans to nationally advertise the position in the “near future” in order to hire a coordinator before Summer term begins, Turco said.
“The good news is we have two very good people filling the jobs, but they’re temporary,” Turco said. “It gives us time to do the search but it would be good to get permanent people. We hope [Baxivanos and DeSiato] will strongly consider applying for the permanent jobs.”
DeSiato said she will not apply for the permanent position, and instead plans to move back to Florida in June after her husband graduates from the Tuck School of Business. Baxivanos will submit her name for consideration for the permanent position, she said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth.
The SPCSA recommended that an additional SAAP coordinator be hired in the fall because the job required “too much work for one position,” SPCSA co-chair Katie Lindsay ’11 said.
“We know that one person shouldering this challenging work alone is not sustainable,” Baxivanos said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth.
The expansion of the SAAP coordinator’s role has resulted partly from College President Jim Yong Kim’s initiative to address sexual assault on campus, Turco said. The addition of a second SAAP coordinator will allow SAAP to do more to help students, particularly because simply dealing with active assault cases can be very time-consuming for one counselor, according to Turco.
“The [SPCSA] felt very strongly that two people can do more education than one,” Turco said. “One person can’t be here 24/7. This is such a critical person to have on campus and you don’t know when it’s going to be needed so you want to have back-up.”
Leah Scrivener ’11, a Mentors Against Violence director and member of the SPCSA, said she agreed that the SAAP coordinator’s duties exceed the capabilities of one individual.
“[Baxivanos] was wearing many hats in the fall,” Scrivener said. “She was a resource for us, she was advising the SPCSA, she was pretty much coordinating everything and on top of that she was available for students who were seeking counseling. She could only do so many things in one day. She did a great job doing it but it was way too much for any one person to coordinate.”
The additional position will also allow for greater outreach to students who seek counseling, according to Scrivener.
“There’s a huge volume of students who are looking for support and we need to give them as much support as possible,” she said.
Before assuming her role as the second interim SAAP coordinator, DeSiato worked as a customer service representative at Dick’s House, where she “served the Dartmouth community to schedule appointments and arrange travel consultations for students,” according to the SAAP website.
The College appointed her to the interim coordinator position after conducting an internal search in order to avoid “wait[ing] six to eight months to get the second position filled,” Turco said.
DeSiato has led SAPA training and met with members of the Dartmouth community, including representatives from the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Dean of the College’s office and faculty and staff, she said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth. DiSiato said she hopes to pursue “several programs” with Baxivanos in the months to come.
Although she will only hold the position for a short time, DeSiato said her primary goals include programming and SAPA training.
Members of the SPCSA interviewed by The Dartmouth said they were happy that the administration took their suggestion and hired an additional coordinator.
“This is such a triumph for combating sexual assault on this campus,” Lindsay said. “The human capacity has doubled in that office and that means we can sustainably do so much more.”
The two new SAAP coordinators will choose to split responsibilities based on their preferences, Turco said.
“We understand the overall goal of the job — education and support,” Turco said. “Depending on the two individuals in the job, they will work it out. They may decide to divide the education and support roles totally in half. There will be a learning curve, but we have the advantage that we have two people doing it now so they will be able to give us good feedback to pass on.”
Regardless of how the responsibilities are split, the decision to add a second permanent SAAP coordinator offers evidence that students and administrators can productively work together, Lindsay said.
“This is something people have been fighting for a long time and the fact that the funding was made available is amazing,” Lindsay said. “The administration followed through on something really important.”
The position has been historically associated with a high turnover rate due to its intensity, Lindsay said.
“The burnout rate has been a huge problem,” Lindsay said. “It’s a very difficult position and a very emotionally taxing position.”
The SAAP coordinator oversees crisis response and case management and educates and trains undergraduate and graduate organizations, peer advisors, nurses, counselors, security officers, Committee on Standards members and other staff and faculty, according to Baxivanos. The SAAP coordinator also advises student groups — particularly Mentors Against Violence and Sexual Abuse Peer Advisors — and organizes programs such as Consent Day, Domestic Violence Awareness Day and the Sex Signals program during Orientation.
Baxivanos graduated from Yale University in 2010. While 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, The Dartmouth previously reported.
This article appeared in print with the headline "College hires SAAP coordinator."