As a sophomore who is studying both government and global studies, I am involved with various student-run organizations on campus in order to better myself and my University. The University that I have chosen to attend and call home is St. Lawrence, which not only represents its' organizations but supports its' student-run clubs. One of the first organizations that I got involved in when I got to SLU was the Advocates.
The Advocates is an organization that consists of students, staff, and faculty who passionately advocate against relationship violence, stalking, sexual assault, and rape in the campus community. The Advocates Program has chosen to be interactive with students that are struggling with relationships and assault cases by training its members to work a helpline to allow students to make anonymous and confidential calls that pertain to such issues. As a result, I decided to do the aware training that prepares students to work the hotline.
The resources, stories, and team building hours that I spent during the course of three days was incredible! It was a long process but by far one of the most memorable and productive things I’ve done on campus. My experience at St. Lawrence has been shaped by the comfort and safety that I feel knowing that I am a part of this program and that I am actively making a difference in taking the advocates phone and being a resource for my friends and classmates on campus. During the three days of training, newly interested advocates are trained about a variety of topics dealing with abusive relationships, sexual assault, and LGBTQ+ issues in the community. The most memorable part of the training was when survivors within and outside of the program shared their stories and everyone respectfully listened and thanked them for sharing. The solemn and respectful way that the newly trained group came together to listen and be there for these survivors as a group highlighted the purpose of the organization and really brought home the idea of community to me. However, at the end of each training day, the group would participate in a self-healing activity, which would result in laughter and camaraderie that would tie the day up in a sense of accomplishment.
Ultimately, the Advocates Program to me means solidarity, understanding, and safety. The way that St. Lawrence has come together to support this program by including the number of the hotline on the back of all student ID’s shows the universities commitment to the program. The mission of the Program to listen and support one another also shows solidarity towards fighting against sexual assault in any form. Furthermore, the understanding and compassion that the Program provides to the survivors is something that I can absolutely support. However, the main goal of the program is providing safety and creating safe spaces for students to feel comfortable on campus is vital, and has been the reason I associate SLU with home.