SARA looks to add members

by Kelsey Hagelberg

Sexual Assault Response Advocates (SARA), a group of Simpson students who provide help to those who have suffered any kind of traumatic sexual assault and misconduct, are looking to add to their amount of members.

If giving support and offering advice to individuals going through difficult times is a passion, joining SARA could be a perfect fit.

“The program means so much, and we want to keep it on Simpson campus,” sophomore member Bobby Dennis said.

SARA works to help students who have been victims by offering helpful advice in hopes to prevent it from happening again. Being a member of SARA is a great way to become more knowledgeable about the struggles in life that people go through.

“By becoming a SARA advocate I grasped a better understanding of sexual assault,” Dennis said.

Joining SARA allows students to get connected with other students on a more personal level, according to Rachel Bandy, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice and co-director of SARA.

“The best part of being an advocate is that SARA members get the chance to help people speak out on a small campus,” Bandy said.

Students may not think that due to Simpson’s size that the problems SARA deals with would be relevant, but they are.

Some on campus activities that SARA has done to reach potential members was the “In Her Shoes Run.”

“I thought this event was beneficial, not only in the fact that it helped promote the message, but also raised awareness to students and faculty of the problems that arise on campus,” sophomore Kacee Arey said.

These participants, mainly men, wore red high heels and ran across the football field to promote the SARA message. Prior to the event, members of the audience voted on the winner by placing bets. The money went to the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assualt.

SARA has an on-call 24-hour hotline when classes are in session. Each advocate of SARA must be the on-call advocate one to two weeks each semester. The Polk County Crisis and Advocacy services are contacted when classes are not taking place.

All information is kept confidential between the caller and the SARA member. SARA members complete 20 hours of training in order to better themselves with techniques of how to help a caller cope with their struggles.

“No matter how prepared you are, you never know how to react because each individual is different,” Dennis said.

Among the required prerequisites, there are other aspects of being a member that must be remembered.

“Individuals must not be afraid to stand up for what they believe in,” Bandy said. “They must be willing to always have victim’s backs, and most importantly they must not be judgmental.”

SARA also takes part in other activities on campus.

“Once every three weeks, all of the SARA advocates get together to plan and talk about activities we wish to accomplish,” Bandy said.

One of these activities is called Toilet Talk, a flyer posted on numerous stalls around campus informing students about many different aspects of their life such as unhealthy relationships.

Being a part of SARA is a big responsibility, but the job is very rewarding. To talk with a member of SARA, the number for the hotline is (515) 962-2899.