Student demands for reform of campus policies regarding sexual violence at Binghamton University have led to the introduction of new services, including the Violence, Abuse and Rape Crisis Center (VARCC).
According to Bing U News, VARCC will provide students with “a centrally located, but calm, private space on the third floor of Old Johnson Hall.” Amy Zieziula, deputy Title IX coordinator, said VARCC will serve as a one-stop location for access to various resources, such as the dean of students, the Consultation, Advocacy, Referral and Education (CARE) Team, Title IX Office, the Crime Victims Assistance Center (CVAC), Health Promotion and Prevention Services (HPPS) and Residential Life.
“It is important to know that these are not new services, as the campus community has always had access to these services,” Zieziula wrote in an email. ”But the creation of a central location with the VARCC is the new component, and this central location has been established due to recommendations from our students. The VARCC will provide victims with a safe space for healing, and the opportunity to obtain services from the entities that they choose.”
In addition, CVAC, which offers a 24/7 hotline service to the Binghamton community, will now be offering the same service via Zoom. Students can use either the phone or Zoom to access this service based on personal preference.
According to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU, the creation of VARCC has included collaboration from student organizations.
”We have a framework in mind but would love to hear from students to work collaboratively on this process,” Yarosh wrote in an email. ”Initial meetings with student organizations, including [Domestic and Oppressive Violence Education (DOVE)], the Student Association [SA], the Graduate Student Organization and the Women’s Student Union [WSU] have been held or are scheduled to happen soon.”
During the fall semester, WSU released a list of demands in response to alleged inadequate resources for sexual assault survivors from the University. Included within these demands was the creation of VARCC and an on-campus location for CVAC. WSU has been among the organizations included in discussions on the development of VARCC by the University, but according to WSU intern Katie Fitzgerald, a sophomore majoring in psychology, the organization still has concerns.
”While we truly appreciate the inclusion of WSU and other student organizations in the establishment of VARCC, we would still ask for more public transparency from the University regarding VARCC’s proposed structure and purpose, its intended staffing and training procedures and where its funding will be derived from, as well as how this money will be distributed,” Fitzgerald said. ”We also would like the University to announce specific goals that have been set and changes that have been made to improve student and academic life for survivors through the implementation of VARCC.”
Additionally, WSU has communicated further demands for VARCC to the University, including no permanent police presence in VARCC out of concern it would cause a hostile environment and that the University hire counselors specifically trained to respond to sexual and interpersonal violence. WSU has also asked for the University to inform survivors of their rights afforded to them by Title IX, as well as other applicable laws, and to include a staff member within VARCC independent of the University to work as a consultant to survivors who believe their rights may have been violated or ignored.
Allison Zuckermann, an undeclared freshman, said she was appreciative of the steps BU was taking but felt that there was more that could be done.
”I’m happy the University is taking steps to help survivors of sexual assault, but I’m also worried about the lack of action taken to stop the problem at the source,” Zuckermann said.
Alysa Cheung, an undeclared freshman, said she was glad to see the University taking these measures but was still concerned about how effective it would be.
”Although I am happy that the issue of sexual assault is being taken more seriously here at [BU], there is a part of me that is concerned about the fact that victims of sexual assault could be left in the care of someone who is not adequately trained to deal with such trauma,” Cheung said.