Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Britt Hochhausler
PORTALES – After three months in the planning stage, Project ROAR (Response, Outreach, Advocacy, Resources) is ready to take off.
Several programs at Eastern New Mexico University are working together to provide a system to help victims of harassment, sexual assault, and relationship violence. Project ROAR is a four-tiered collaboration of the ENMU counseling services, student health center, residence hall staff, Office of Student Affairs, University Police and the district attorney's Victim Advocate program to give information to students about prevention and awareness.
Last October, Dr. Gary Musgrave, vice president for Student Affairs at ENMU, put together an informal committee to address potential student concerns about safety issues. The original committee consisted of Ty Walker, director of Counseling and Career Services; Ray Chambers, chief of ENMU police; Carol Holland, director of Student Health Services; and Dr. Dena Moore, assistant professor of counseling and counseling programs coordinator. Dr. Moore was elected as the chairperson of the committee.
Project ROAR will act as an information service and will provide a person with intervention through Counseling and Career Services.
"The goal of the committee is not take away from the separate entities and services we represented, but to create a seamless system for response for students unfamiliar with the different offices," said Dr. Moore, a licensed counselor with extensive experience in working with victims of trauma and abuse.
The first facet of Project ROAR is response. The members are creating a plan so victims of harassment, sexual assault and relationship violence will be sent to the right department to report the problem. All reporting will be confidential.
The second aspect is an outreach program to help students, faculty and staff identify and understand harassment and relationship violence.
"Most sexual assault happens with someone who is known to the victim, especially on college campuses," Dr. Moore said. "When a victim of date rape knows her assailant, there is a lot of pressure not to report."
According to Dr. Moore, graduate students in the ENMU counseling program have been strongly involved in the outreach part of the program. The students help educate about violence and blame in gender socialization. They have recently presented the program to resident assistants on how to identify harassment and relationship violence and how to report when they encounter a victim.
The third tier of Project ROAR is serving as an advocate for victims. "The district attorney's office has trained advocates to work with victims of violence," Dr. Moore said.
One of the project's goals is to train student advocates from ENMU. "Students often prefer that trained peers go through the process with them," Dr. Moore said.
A big part of advocacy and outreach is education. Dr. Moore believes that it is not enough to teach "Just Say No" to students.
"It is important that we educate faculty, staff, and students about what harassment and relationship violence involves. Sometimes victims are re-victimized by blame."
The last component of Project ROAR is gathering resources. The program will have an office inside the Counseling and Career Services department for people to obtain resource materials. The Counseling and Career Services office has two trained counselors who know how to work with relationship issues. The office is located in SAS 212 and the phone number is 562.2211.
"Project ROAR will enable students to obtain materials and information in a non-threatening environment. It will be a less stressful way to get information, including information about reporting violence, than they might otherwise encounter," Dr. Moore said.
Project ROAR is also open to faculty, staff, and students and is looking for student volunteers to serve as advocates and participants in presentations. Extended Learning is offering a course in victims advocacy in March.
For more information about Project ROAR, call Dr. Moore at 562.2942.